In this Wednesday night edition of MACtion, a lot is on the line for the Miami (OH) Redhawks, as they need just one win over their final two games to clinch their spot in the MAC Championship game. Despite losing their starting quarterback to a devastating injury, the Redhawks have rallied around their defense to help lead them to their 8-2 record heading into tonight’s game against the Buffalo Bulls.
With a lot to play for, I’ll break down why I like the Redhawks' defense to carry the team again and keep this a low-scoring affair.
While there might be a lot on the line for the Redhawks moving forward, all the Buffalo Bulls can hope to do is play spoiler. With a 3-7 record, the Bulls won’t be going bowling this season even if they win both of their remaining games. Midweek MACtion has been tough on the Bulls, as they’ve needed to play against two of the top teams in the conference, resulting in them scoring a combined 23 points over the past two weeks.
By scoring just ten points last week, Buffalo is now ranked 120th in offensive EPA and 99th in average points per game (21.4). The Bulls have lacked explosiveness on that side of the ball all season, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and 5.1 yards per pass. For the most part, the Bulls want the ball in quarterback Cole Snyder’s hands, but he has not been able to produce consistently this year, leading to Buffalo ranking 122nd in success rate on pass plays.
Across ten games, Snyder has failed to produce a completion percentage higher than 56.9% in six of them, and since conference play started, he is posting a 3:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. It won’t get any easier for the Bulls signal caller tonight since he’s set to play a Redhawks defense that ranks 30th in EPA and 9th in average points allowed per game (16.8).
The Redhawks' defense has wreaked havoc on opposing offensive lines, entering this week with a conference-leading 31 sacks. With their imposing front seven and solid secondary that has held opponents to an average of 197.7 passing yards per game, maintaining drives against Miami has been a tall task for offenses (29.7% third down conversion rate).
The point total for this matchup is currently set at 40.5, and I’ll be taking the under for my play. Buffalo is 119th in EPA per pass play and 107th in EPA per rush, which is a big reason why the under has cashed in all six of their conference games.
Since they lack explosiveness, Buffalo tries to grind down opponents on that side of the ball. The only problem with that strategy is being 35th in time of possession and 105th in third down conversion percentage don’t usually combine for a winning formula. Now, they must use that flawed method against a defense that is 58th in defensive success rate and can make Cole Snyder uncomfortable in the pocket all night.
If there is one positive to this Buffalo team, it’s their defense. The Bulls are 46th in defensive success rate on run plays, setting them up nicely against a Miami team that wants to keep the ball on the ground. Since Aveon Smith took over as the starter, he has not attempted more than 17 passes in a game, so the Redhawks are leaning almost entirely on Rashad Amos. Not only can Buffalo make it challenging for Amos to get things going, but even if he does, I don’t think the Redhawks' run game alone can push this total over.
Under 40.5 (-110)