Week 14 - MAC Previews & BGSU vs. Buffalo

Posted Nov 30, 2013

Week 14 Fearless Prediction & Preview - Western Michigan at Northern Illinois, bowling Green at Buffalo, and more

Western Michigan (1-10) at Northern Illinois (11-0) Nov. 26, 7:00, ESPN2

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Now that Northern Illinois has passed up Fresno State in the BCS standings, it has to prove that it should stay. The Huskies have been brilliant on their way to an 11-0 start, and while they have a spot in the MAC championship secured, they've tasted the big-time and are openly shooting for a big money BCS game.

Western Michigan hasn't had anything go right this season. The normally solid program is in the midst of a disaster, with only a one-loss win over a miserable UMass shaking things up a bit. How bad have things been? Along with the loss to Eastern Michigan, WMU lost 59-3 to the same Iowa team NIU beat.

What Will Happen: The Huskies have dealt with adversity and came out fine. As long as they're focused, and as long as Jordan Lynch continues to be a one-man wrecking crew at times, there shouldn't be any problems putting on another great show. However, the WMU offense will come up with just enough good drives to keep Fresno State's interest.

Prediction: Northern Illinois 41 … Western Michigan 17
Line: Northern Illinois -35 o/u: 63.5
Must See Rating: (5 American Hustle – 1 The Sound of Music Live!) … 2
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Toledo (7-4) at Akron (4-7) Nov. 29 12:00, ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Toledo is in an interesting spot as it jockeys for bowl position. Ball State is almost certainly going to whack Miami to finish with ten wins, but Toledo could end up getting the fourth MAC bowl spot with a dominant win. With victories over the two best teams from the East – Bowling Green and Buffalo – this has been an impressive season after starting out with losses to Florida and Missouri – but a loss would be an absolute disaster and might put a bowl game in jeopardy.

Akron is on a two game winning streak and has won three of its last four to make a bad season all of a sudden look decent under Terry Bowden. Beating Kent State might not seem like a big deal, but the Golden Flashes whacked Ohio badly and have had their moments. A 5-7 season would be a tremendous jump up for the Zips, especially if they can screw up the Rockets.

What Will Happen: Don't be shocked if Akron can move the ball and keep the chains moving. However, the offense will have to come up with something special to keep up the pace, and the offense doesn't have the running game to handle everything Toledo can do. The Rockets are averaging 241 rushing yards per game, and while they won't hit that mark, they should control the game early on.

Prediction: Toledo 34 … Akron 24
Line: Toledo -7.5 o/u: 55
Must See Rating: (5 American Hustle – 1 The Sound of Music Live!) … 2
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Miami University (0-11) at Ball State (9-2) Nov. 29 1:00 ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Ball State has a bowl game wrapped up, and now it's time to go for the gaudy record and the phenomenal season, hoping to push for 11 wins with a bowl victory. While the loss to Northern Illinois two weeks ago might have been a major downer in an otherwise special year, closing out with seven wins in the final eight games would be tremendous. Now it has to make the layup.

Miami needs to get done with the campaign and move on to next year and a new era with a new coaching staff. Not only have the RedHawks gone winless, but they've been obliterated in almost every game with just 16 points in the last three games. It's been several weeks since they've been competitive.

What Will Happen: With the least efficient and effective passing game in America, Miami has no hope of keeping up the pace once the high-powered Cardinals get going early. Ball State averages almost 40 points per game, Miami averages around nine. It's not going to be pretty.

Prediction: Ball State 54 … Miami University 10
Line: Ball St -34.5 o/u: 54.5
Must See Rating: (5 American Hustle – 1 The Sound of Music Live!) … 1.5
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Bowling Green (8-3) at Buffalo (8-3) Nov. 29 1:30, ESPNU

Why You Should Give A Hoot: All those who thought three months ago that this would be the game to decide the MAC East title, raise your hand. The winner gets to take on Northern Illinois in the title game, and each team is worthy of the challenge – even though they both lost to Toledo - with Buffalo coming up with a shocking turnaround after getting pasted 110 to 23 in the opening two games against Ohio State and Baylor. Winners of eight of the last nine games, helped by a tremendous defense led by top ten NFL prospect Khalil Mack, the Bulls have allowed 14 points or fewer in six of the last eight games.

Bowling Green also knows a little something about defense giving up just ten points over the last three games. The offense has been a bit inconsistent, but it's been on fire against the bad MAC teams on the schedule. Four points away from being 10-1, the Falcons have lived up to the preseason billing.

What Will Happen: Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush. Buffalo's aggressive defense is among the best in the nation at getting into the backfield and getting to the quarterback, and Bowling Green's offensive line is awful in pass protection. However, can the UB passing game move the ball against the nation's best pass defense? It'll be a war of good Ds, with the Bulls pulling it off with a few more big plays.

Prediction: Buffalo 24 … Bowling Green 17
Line: Bowling Green -1.5 o/u: 51
Must See Rating: (5 American Hustle – 1 The Sound of Music Live!) … 4
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Massachusetts (1-10) at Ohio (6-5) Nov. 29 2:00, ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: It's been a rocky year for Ohio, coasting along to a 6-2 record before falling off the face of the earth with a three-game losing streak. Getting obliterated by Buffalo and Bowling Green is one thing, but Kent State had its way with the Bobcats last week in a 44-13 win. Ohio is already bowl eligible, but that doesn't ensure anything with the way it's playing. 7-5 would put it on the map.

This is it for a UMass team that can't seem to find anything to consistently work on offense. The defense can't stop the better offenses, and the attack has only come up with over 20 points once, but Ohio isn't stopping anyone. A win over the Bobcats would be a really, really big deal for head coach Charley Molnar to build off of.

What Will Happen: Ohio has to bounce back at some point, right? The running game has fallen flat but that might change against a UMass run defense that's getting gouged. The Minutemen have just four rushing scores on the year, and it's not going to be able to find the pop needed as Ohio rights the ship to close things out.

Prediction: Ohio 34 … Massachusetts 13
Line: Ohio -16.5 o/u: 49
Must See Rating: (5 American Hustle – 1 The Sound of Music Live!) … 1.5
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Eastern Michigan (2-9) at Central Michigan (5-6) Nov. 29 2:00, ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: The disastrous Eastern Michigan season is coming to an end against a directional rival, and after beating Western Michigan two weeks ago, the year can close out on a high note. It'll be a new era next year with a new coaching staff, but ruining Central Michigan's year would be a great way to finish up.

The Chippewas might not be special, but they've done what they've needed to do against the MAC's weak and sad, beating Western Michigan and UMass to get on the cusp of bowl eligibility. No matter how it has happened, getting to six wins will be a big, big plus in the Dan Enos era, and while it might not mean a 13th game – the MAC will have too many bowl eligible teams – closing out with three straight wins would be fantastic.

What Will Happen: The Central Michigan offense might not be explosive and it might not be anything EMU can't handle, but the defense has shown it can handle itself against the mediocre offenses. Eastern Michigan's offense has a little bit of pop, but not enough, while the defense has allowed 50 points or more in four of the last five games.

Prediction: Central Michigan 48 … Eastern Michigan 24
Line: Central Michigan -18.5 o/u: 58.5
Must See Rating: (5 American Hustle – 1 The Sound of Music Live!) … 1.5
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