Tuesday Night MACtion Odds And Betting Preview: Division Winner A Home Dog Vs. Last-Place Team

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Rocky Lombardi (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire)

MACtion bettors start the holiday football week with a pair of games Tuesday night. One features Western Michigan, the last-place team in the West Division, going on the road to face first-place Northern Illinois — and the Broncos are favored by 3.5 at most sportsbooks, with Caesars dealing -4 the day before the game.

In the evening’s other MAC game, Ball State is a 5.5-point favorite (FanDuel) over the visiting Buffalo Bulls.

WMIC Western Michigan vs NIU Northern Illinois Odds NCAAF Odds

NCAAF · Tue (11/23) @ 7:00pm ET

WMIC Western Michigan at NIU Northern Illinois
Huskie Stadium, DeKalb, IL

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Western Michigan Broncos (6-5 SU, 4-6-1 ATS) vs. Northern Illinois Huskies (8-3 SU, 7-3-1 ATS)

How is it that the team ranked last in the division is favored to beat the team that’s clinched a spot in the MAC Championship Game?

Western Michigan has a productive offense. It ranks third in the MAC in yards. Over the Broncos’ last four games, they have averaged 465.25 yards of offense. While the defense was not dominant in any of the games, it played well enough to hold all four opponents to fewer yards — just not fewer points.

Turnovers contributed to losses in three of those four games and have been an issue for the Broncos all season. Western Michigan ranks second to last in the MAC in fumbles lost.

Northern Illinois’ defense is last in the conference in sacks, 11th in run defense, 10th in total defense, and seventh against the pass. However, the Huskies have made up for their bad defense with the second-best run game in the conference.

But Western Michigan’s run defense is the best in the MAC. If it can limit the Northern Illinois run game and force the Huskies to throw the ball, advantage Broncos.

Western Michigan vs. Northern Illinois Full Sportsbook Odds

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Betting Analysis

If Western Michigan can protect the ball, the Broncos offense will be in great shape against a lackluster Huskies defense. While the Northern Illinois run game is excellent, it is hard to say whether it will be effective against the best run defense in the MAC.

Northern Illinois has been dancing a fine line between winning and losing all season. All of its conference games have been decided by a touchdown or less (just two by 7-8 points). Most of the time, however, they find a way to win.

BUF Buffalo vs BALL Ball State Odds NCAAF Odds

NCAAF · Tue (11/23) @ 7:00pm ET

BUF Buffalo at BALL Ball State
Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, IN

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Buffalo Bulls (4-7 SU, 3-7-1 ATS) vs. Ball State Cardinals (5-6 SU,3-8 ATS)

Ball State looked like it may have a shot at defending its conference championship this season. But after losing three of their last four, the most the Cardinals can hope for is bowl eligibility for just the ninth time in program history.

The key to getting win No. 6 on Tuesday will be stopping the Buffalo run game. On the season, the Bulls have averaged 199.7 yards on the ground per game. Dylan McDuffie has led the way with 100+ yards in four of his last five games, and the run game has averaged 200+ in three of those five games, two of which Buffalo won.

But Ball State’s defense ranks fifth in the conference against the run, so Buffalo may need to turn to the passing game. However, throwing the ball has not been the strength of their offense. But is that because they are not good at it or because the offense focused on the run?

Ball State’s defense ranks 1oth in the MAC against the pass.

Buffalo will move the ball, but the question is how effective the Cardinals offense will be against the Bulls. The passing game has struggled in recent weeks, so that will likely depend on Carson Steele. The freshman running back has come on strong down the stretch with 100+ yards in three of his last five games.

If Carson can get a head of steam going against the Bulls run defense, which is ranked second to last in the MAC, that may be the key to victory for the Cardinals.

About the Author

Travis Pulver

Travis Pulver is a lifelong football fan, something he says comes naturally having been born in the football-crazy state of Texas. Through the years, his love of sports has extended into baseball, basketball, golf, and rugby. Life currently finds him in Indiana with his wife and two kids.

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