Who doesn’t love MACtion? The Mid-American Conference has two college football games on Wednesday night with the season winding down. Here’s a look at each with a pick on the NCAAF odds.
NCAAF Matches To Must Wager On Wednesday
Northern Illinois at Buffalo (+1.5)
It’s a 7 p.m. ET kickoff on ESPN2. Northern Illinois (7-3) rallied to beat Ball State 30-29 last Wednesday. Quarterback Rocky Lombardi led NIU to back-to-back scoring drives in the fourth quarter and John Richardson nailed a 32-yard field goal as time expired to secure the victory. Richardson is 16-for-18 on field goals this season and 26-for-26 on PATs. He ranks eighth nationally and leads the MAC in field goals per game and is also No. 1 in the league in scoring. Earlier this month, Richardson was named a semifinalist for the 2021 Lou Groza Award, which goes to the best kicker in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Running back Jay Ducker recorded his fourth consecutive 100-yard rushing game with 155 yards on 24 carries. Ducker is the first player with four straight 100-yard games since Joel Bouagnon in 2015 (October 3-October 24).
With its one-point win, the Huskies have now played in eight one-possession games (8 points or less) and have won six of those games. Four of NIU’s seven wins have come by a combined five points: NIU has one-point wins over Georgia Tech, Central Michigan and Ball State and a two-point win over Toledo.
Buffalo (4-6) was routed 45-18 last Tuesday by Miami of Ohio. Bulls star running back Kevin Marks, Jr. was back in the lineup after missing a few injured and rushed for 18 yards, becoming just the sixth player in program history to rush for 3,000 career yards. Fellow RB Dylan McDuffie has averaged 127 yards rushing over the last 4 games. He has scored a rushing touchdown in 5 straight games.
The Bulls rank near the top of the MAC in scoring offense, averaging 32.1 points per game. However, they have been doing so without the luxury of scoring on long touchdown plays. Of the Bulls’ 30 offensive touchdowns on the season, only 3 have come from outside the red zone.
The Bulls are 9-1 in their last 10 weeknight MACtion games played at UB Stadium. Their loss came against Northern Illinois in 2015.
NIU leads the all-time series with Buffalo, 12-2, with the Bulls claiming just their second win in the series in last year’s November 4 season opener. Prior to that, NIU had won the last 12 contests, including every game since the Huskies became a Football Bowl Subdivision team in 1969. Two of the last three meetings between the teams – and three all-time – have been decided by one point.
Central Michigan at Ball State (+1)
Also a 7 p.m. ET kickoff and show on ESPNU. Central Michigan (6-4) beat Kent State 54-30 last Wednesday. Lew Nichols continued to establish himself as one of the nation’s top running backs with 215 yards and four touchdowns on 43 carries, all career highs. He brought his season total to 1,297 rushing yards and 11 TDs.
QB Daniel Richardson completed 21 of 27 pass attempts for 268 yards and a career-high four touchdowns as the Chippewas posted their highest point total since a 56-9 win over Ball State on Oct. 17, 2017, a stretch of 47 games. CMU held the ball for 37 minutes to Kent State’s 23. Central Michigan is 8-1 in the month of November under Jim McElwain. The squad went 3-0 in 2019, 3-1 in 2020 and is 2-0 this season
Ball State (5-5) lost 30-29 last week to Northern Illinois. BSU took a 29-27 advantage on a 48-yard field goal from Jacob Lewis with 1:42 remaining but the Cards left the Huskies just enough time to drive down to the 12-yard line and connect on a game-winning 32-yard field goal as time expired for a 30-29 win and end Ball State’s bid to repeat as MAC Champions.
WR Justin Hall is averaging 136.1 all-purpose yards per game, good for 15th-most in the country. With 129 all-purpose yards (and two touchdowns) at Northern Illinois, Hall broke the program record for career all-purpose yards previously held by Dante Love (2005-08). He now has 5,352 yards in his illustrious career. In addition, Hall needs just one more game catching a pass to tie Central Michigan’s Bryan Anderson (2006-09) for the most consecutive games catching a pass with 54.
Central Michigan has met Ball State 53 times in program history, with the series tied, 26-26-1. The Chippewas are 14-13-1 all-time in games played in Muncie. CMU has won three straight on the road in the series. CMU has won four of the last six against the Cardinals after a stretch that saw Central Michigan drop six of seven.
- Northern Illinois and Central Michigan