Week 7: MAC Previews, Predictions

    Buffalo (3-3) at Eastern Michigan (1-4) Oct. 11, 1:00, ESPN3 Here’s The Deal: Eastern Michigan crawls back to Ypsilanti following a grueling four-game

    October 10, 2014

    Buffalo (3-3) at Eastern Michigan (1-4) Oct. 11, 1:00, ESPN3 

    Here’s The Deal: Eastern Michigan crawls back to Ypsilanti following a grueling four-game road trip, all losses after opening the season with a win over Morgan State in coach Chris Creighton’s debut. The Eagles will be hosting Buffalo, which is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Bowling Green, 36-35, in the waning moments. Save for the Week 3 visit from Baylor, the Bulls have rolled on offense before the passing of Joe Licata and the prolific running of Anthone Taylor. 
    What’s Going To Happen: Yeah, it’s good to be back at Rynearson Stadium, but the glow will wear off in a hurry for the home team. While QB Rob Bolden and the Eagle offense will perk up a bit against a soft Bull D, it won’t be enough to keep pace with Taylor, Licata and his receivers. Since Week 2, Eastern Michigan is averaging just a little over seven points per game. 
    Prediction: Buffalo 35 … Eastern Michigan 17 
    Line: Buffalo -13.5 o/u: 58 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Gone Girl – 1: Mulaney … 1 

    Bowling Green (4-2) at Ohio (3-3) Oct. 11, 2:00 

    Here’s The Deal: Longtime rivals Bowling Green and Ohio meet in Athens in a game of significance in the MAC East race. The Falcons have an early lead in the division, courtesy of consecutive narrow escapes of Massachusetts and Buffalo. Dino Babers’ first team is high-scoring, but it gives up plenty of points as well. The Bobcats return home looking to avoid a losing streak. They regressed in Week 6, losing to Central Michigan, 28-10, in a listless overall effort. 
    What’s Going To Happen: Even after losing starting QB Matt Johnson, Babers has the Falcons cranking out points behind the running of Sunshine State backs Travis Greene and Fred Coppet. While the Bobcats have the more reliable D, they did have problems with the Chippewa backs last week. Plus, Bowling Green is learning how to pull out tight games, and might be able to salt this one away once it approaches 30 points. 
    Prediction: Bowling Green 31 … Ohio 28 
    Line: Bowling Green -2 o/u: 66 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Gone Girl – 1: Mulaney … 1.5 

    Miami U. (1-5) at Akron (3-2) Oct. 11, 1:00, ESPN3 

    Here’s The Deal: Akron continues to surge forward in Terry Bowden’s third season, building off last year’s strong November. The Zips are over .500 this late in a season for the first time since 2005, winning back-to-back games over Pitt and Eastern Michigan. They’ll spend the next eight weeks trying to take another step forward by capturing a winnable MAC East. Miami is fresh off a miraculous comeback win over Massachusetts to snap the nation’s longest losing streak at 21 games. The RedHawks trailed 41-14 late in the third, but scored the final 28 points for an emotional victory. 
    What’s Going To Happen: Can the RedHawks possibly get refocused this week after last Saturday’s zany ending to beat the Minutemen? The Zips, on the other hand, are building at a nice pace, with sound defense and a balance offense. They’ll contain Miami QB Andrew Hendrix to win for the third week in a row. 
    Prediction: Akron 30 … Miami Univ. 17 
    Line: Akron -14 o/u: 54 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Gone Girl – 1: Mulaney … 1.5 

    Massachusetts (0-6) at Kent State (0-5) Oct. 11, 2:00, ESPN3 

    Here’s The Deal: It’s the battle between the MAC’s two remaining winless programs, which means someone is getting out of Dix Stadium with a much-needed streak-busting win. Kent State has come close to breaking through in 2014, losing the opener to Ohio and last week at Northern Illinois by just a field goal. Massachusetts has been even closer to tasting victory. Painfully closer. The Minutemen blew a 41-14 lead on Miami U. last week on the road. Still, they had the ball on the RedHawk two-yard line, but inexplicably ran a play instead of spiking the ball, killing any chance for a walk-off field goal. 
    What’s Going To Happen: The Minutemen passing game is flourishing under head coach Mark Whipple and QB Blake Frohnapfel, a Marshall transfer. They’ve scored 83 points over the last two games, but have yielded 89. The Flashes, on the other hand, can’t extend drives or score points. UMass will again start fast, but this time it’ll close the deal on the strength of three Frohnapfel scoring strikes. 
    Prediction: Massachusetts 34 … Kent State 27 
    Line: Kent State -1 o/u: 55 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Gone Girl – 1: Mulaney … 1 

    Arkansas State (3-2) at Georgia State (1-4) Oct. 11, 2:00 

    Here’s The Deal: Georgia State is back in Atlanta for the first time in a month, looking to finally get over the hump. The Panthers have been in every game this season, even against Washington for a time, but they continue to come up short. They’re still looking for their first win over an FBS opponent since 2011. Arkansas State will arrive at the Georgia Dome with momentum. The Red Wolves are battled-tested and hot, having beaten Utah State and UL-Monroe the last two games. 
    What’s Going To Happen: The Red Wolves have a shifty quarterback, Fredi Knighten, a healthy Michael Gordon at running back and a defense that’s one of the better units in the Sun Belt Conference. It’ll be enough to keep Georgia State reeling for at least another week. Trent Miles has the Panthers moving in the right direction, but just not quickly enough, particularly on defense. 
    Prediction: Arkansas State 34 … Georgia State 23 
    Line: Arkansas State -10 o/u: 64 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Gone Girl – 1: Mulaney … 1 

    Western Michigan (2-3) at Ball State (1-4) Oct. 11, 3:00 

    Here’s The Deal: The winner this weekend in Muncie will have renewed hope that a strong second half could lead to a postseason invitation. The loser will take another big step toward a bowl-less December. Ball State continues to be the MAC’s biggest disappointment of 2014, falling at Army for their fourth loss in a row since handling Colgate in the opener. Western Michigan wants to rebound from a heartbreaking overtime loss to Toledo on a missed PAT. Second-year coach P.J. Fleck has his squad headed in the right direction, adding some tangible gains to a terrific offseason on the recruiting trail. 
    What’s Going To Happen: It’s now-or-never for Ball State, which has exhausted its margin for error this season. Western Michigan is coming off a solid defensive effort, but the young Broncos lack the consistency to turn last week into a habit. The Cardinals will ride RB Jahwan Edwards to a hard-fought—and much-needed—second win of the year. 
    Prediction: Ball State 27 … Western Michigan 23 
    Line: Ball State -3 o/u: 55.5 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Gone Girl – 1: Mulaney … 1.5 

    Central Michigan (3-3) at Northern Illinois (4-1) Oct. 11, 5:00 

    Here’s The Deal: In this weekend’s MAC West showdown in DeKalb, Northern Illinois hopes to keep pace with front-running Toledo in the division. Central Michigan, meanwhile, wants to build on last Saturday’s comfortable win over Ohio by picking up an unexpected road win. Now that RB Thomas Rawls and WR Titus Davis are at full strength again, this could be a dangerous Chippewa team in the second half of the year. The Huskies remain an enigma for head coach Rod Carey. They beat Northwestern in Evanston in Week 2, yet barely slipped past hapless Kent State a week ago. 
    What’s Going To Happen: Northern Illinois is ripe for the picking, especially since the offense remains stuck in neutral, and Central Michigan’s attack features more playmakers. But the Huskies just don’t lose at home, winning 28 straight in DeKalb. They’ll continue to lean on the MAC’s best all-around defense to fend off the upset-minded Chippewas. 
    Prediction: Northern Illinois 28 … Central Michigan 20 
    Line: Northern Illinois -1 o/u: 57
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Gone Girl – 1: Mulaney … 1.5 

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