Night two of midweek MACtion continues tonight with two more games as we will look to build off our 2-0 start to the week with MACtion picks after last night. The games being played tonight will be Central Michigan @ Northern Illinois and Western Michigan @ Bowling Green, with both games kicking off at 7:00 ET. Like yesterday we will start with a breakdown of the games and then get into my pick for each.
Both teams come into tonight’s game sitting at the bottom of the conference standings and both failing to live up to preseason expectations. CMU and Northern Illinois both have a record of (2-6) and (1-3) in the conference so in order to be bowl eligible they would need to win out for the rest of the season.
Despite having talent on the offensive side of the ball CMU is only averaging 19.8 points per game when playing a conference opponent and need their quarterback Daniel Richardson to step up his game in order to get back on track. Richardson doesn’t have bad numbers as he has thrown for 13 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions but the offense has looked stagnant for most of the conference play with him under center.
Central Michigan also features a stellar running back in Lew Nichols but he has been struggling with injury and his status for tonight is uncertain. If he can’t play CMU will need Richardson and tight end Joel Wilson to take advantage of a Northern Illinois defense allowing 33.9 points per game.
NIU also has injury problems on the offensive side of the ball as quarterback Rocky Lombardi has been in and out of the lineup all season. Whether Lombardi can play or not the Huskies primarily rely on a strong rushing attack as they run the ball 59% of the time on offense which is 17th in the country. Harrison Waylee and Antario Brown have the Huskies ranked 20th in the country in rush yards per game with 210 but they will be challenged tonight by a strong CMU defensive line.
Northern Illinois opened as 3.5-point favorites in this game but that number is currently sitting at (-5.5). The Huskies are 0-3 ATS this season when they play home and CMU is 2-2 against the spread when they are the away team.
The point total for this game opened at 56 but is now currently sitting at 56.5. The only book it opened at a widely different number was FanDuel as they set the opening line at 62.5, only to change it to 55.5 the next day.
As far as trends go the under is 5-1 in CMU’s last six conference games while the over is 4-1 in NIU’s last five home games.
I will be rolling with the under of 56.5 in this game as my best play. Neither team has shown much big-play potential on offense and adding all the injuries on both sides up I like this game to go under.
The uncertainty of who will be available has me staying away from any spread bets and I like the turnover potential Central Michigan’s defense offers to go along with Northern Illinois’s slow pace of play and their want to establish the run game before they open up the passing game. NIU’s defense also has the chance to turn their season around against a sputtering Chippewas offense.
The (3-5) Western Michigan Broncos head into Bowling Green with a (2-2) conference record and looking to build off last week's win against Miami Ohio. The Falcons of Bowling Green are currently (4-4) and within striking distance in the conference with a (3-1) record and sitting in fourth place.
Western Michigan has struggled mightily on offense this season as they only average 17.4 points per game heading into tonight’s contest. They average 38.7 rushing plays per game which is 38th in the country but they only average 3.3 yards per carry on those plays which is 109th in the country.
Turnovers have been a major problem for the Broncos and that starts with their quarterback Jack Salopek who has already thrown 10 interceptions this season. WMU is averaging 2.1 turnovers per game which bodes well for a Bowling Green defense that is averaging 2 takeaways a game but allowing 31.3 points per game.
Offensively for Bowling Green, they have been inconsistent all year and come into tonight’s game averaging 326.4 yards per game. Their quarterback Matt McDonald has put together a solid season with 15 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. McDonald and his favorite wide receiver target Odieu Hilliare will have the chance to rack up yards tonight against a Western Michigan defense allowing 8.5 yards per pass.
Bowling Green opened as a 3.5-point favorite to start and that number has moved a full point up to (-4.5) where it sits now. The Falcons are 2-2 ATS when they play at home while the Broncos are 2-2 ATS when they play on the road so the playing field advantage trend is a non-factor in this one.
Historically between these two teams when it comes to ATS the Broncos have covered the spread in five of the last seven meetings between these two teams.
The point total for this game opened at 47 and has gone up 1.5 points to 48.5 where it sits right now in most sportsbooks. When it comes to trends the under is 4-1 in the last five meetings these teams have had when playing in Bowling Green. The under is also 7-2 in the last nine match-ups between these two teams.
My best play for the game is sticking with the favorite and taking Bowling Green (-4.5). The Western Michigan defense won’t be able to contain the Falcon's passing game for the entire game so I expect Bowling Green to be able to build a lead.
Western Michigan’s turnover concerns play a big factor as well so if those issues continue the Bowling Green defense should be able to put them away and play with a lead the entire game.
Central Michigan @ Northern Illinois Under 56.5
Bowling Green (-4.5)