Best bets for the return of MACtion tonight

Create: 2020-11-04
Update: 2020-11-04
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Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Ladies and gentlemen, I know a whole lot is going on right now, and maybe you're a little stressed out, but don't worry. Salvation in the form of mediocre football is here! That's right, Wednesday evening marks the return of MACtion, the particular brand of football played on Tuesday and Wednesday nights in the Mid-American Conference.
It's a degenerates' salvation. In the last few weeks, we've seen the NHL, NBA and MLB seasons all come to an end, leaving a hole in the middle of our weekly sports diet. Well, that's no longer the case, as the empty carbs that are MACtion are here to sate our hunger.
Now, some of you might be wondering how it is that I'm so critical of horrible NFC East games being televised, but I'm excited to see bad MAC games. There's a simple but significant difference between the two. MAC football is supposed to be bad. That's its charm. It's a bunch of smaller, Midwestern schools similar to one another on a talent level, and that level isn't exactly high. You put it all together, and you get some ridiculously fun results.
The NFC East is not fun. It is a division full teams that are supposed to be full of professionals at the peak of their sport. Instead, it's Daniel Jones falling on his face because he's running too fast -- which, honestly, is something you might see in MACtion -- and some third-string QB from a small school you've never heard of missing receivers by 10 yards. Which, wait a second, that sounds like MACtion too.
OK, so maybe you're right, maybe they're the same thing, and I've been looking at it all wrong. I'm going to deal with this latest existential crisis for a minute, so while I do that, check out these links.
  • The 49ers reportedly had to shut down their facilities on Wednesday.
  • Jerry Jones isn't interested in your tanking suggestions. Of course, his team is already doing a fantastic job of it.
  • How USC helped convince the Pac-12 to play football this fall.
  • PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe could be out a few weeks.
OK, let's make some money
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Ohio at Central Michigan, 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Under 56 (-110)
: One of the things that makes MACtion so exciting is that it's hard to predict. Now, that's true of any sporting event, particularly when it comes to betting on them, but the MAC seems to be in a different world entirely. Throw in the fact that the conference is starting so late and that it's doing so on a Wednesday night, and things might be crazier than ever. When this happens, we rely on our principles, and taking the under in Frank Solich games has long been a principle.
Over the years, Ohio has had an explosive offense. The Bobcats are capable of scoring in a hurry and breaking off big runs. They're never in a hurry while doing it, though, and that's key. This is an offense that likes to chew as much clock as possible, and the defense tends to be reliable. It's a formula that's worked well for the Bobcats and one that will continue in 2020, particularly against an up-tempo offense like Central Michigan's.
It also doesn't hurt our confidence that the forecast for Wednesday night is calling for Mt. Pleasant is calling for steady 12 to 14 mph crosswinds. That's going to impact passing attacks and special teams and depress scoring.
Key Trend: The under has hit in four straight between these teams.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model has been simulating results for all tonight's MACtion.
💰The Picks
🏈 College Football
Eastern Michigan at Kent State, 6 p.m | TV: ESPN+
The Pick: Kent State -4 (-110) -- 
You're not going to find me taking home favorites in MAC games very often, but this is a play I'm making more on feel than numbers. Kent State is one of the MAC teams I'm high on coming into the 2020 season because I've seen the improvement the program has made under Sean Lewis.
It was evident at the end of last season when the Flashes, at 3-6, pulled off a comeback upset against Buffalo. The following week, they proved it wasn't a fluke, as they beat Ball State and then finished the regular season beating this Eastern Michigan team 34-26 on the road. That win earned them bowl eligibility, and the Flashes went on to beat Utah State 51-41 in the Frisco Bowl. So they went from 3-6 to reeling off four straight wins. They also return one of the best QBs in the conference in Dustin Crum, while Eastern Michigan has to replace its QB Mike Glass and its offensive coordinator. 
Key Trend: Kent State has covered five straight in the series.
Ball State at Miami (OH), 7 p.m | TV: CBS Sports Network
The Pick: Ball State +2 (-110) -- 
With the MAC being so unpredictable from year-to-year thanks to coaching turnover, as well as equal talent spread throughout the conference, for the most part, I tend to look for consistency and returning production. Having a veteran squad could prove even more valuable in a season like this one. All of which makes Ball State an intriguing option to me not only in this spot but as a possible darkhorse in the conference this season.
This is a team with a senior QB in Drew Plitt returning, as well as four seniors on the offensive line, most of its skill position players back and a lot of key players back on defense. Tonight they play the defending conference champions, but while the RedHawks have plenty of experience returning as well, a lot of the underlying metrics with this team last year showed it overperformed. I'm taking Ball State on the spread here, but I don't hate the idea of taking them to win straight up.
Key Trend: Road teams went 10-3 ATS last year on Tuesday and Wednesday nights in the MAC.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: If you're feeling bold on this MACtion Wednesday, check out the six-team parlay from the SportsLine Projection Model (up $4,100 on top-rated ATS picks last four years). It pays nearly 50-1. Or, isolate the games you like best as every MAC team kicks off its long-awaited season.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo -- If you're playing MAC DFS tonight, you want Jaret Patterson in your lineup. He might be the best player in the entire conference and is one of the country's top running backs. He's also the focal point of a Buffalo offense that could prove to be one of the conference's top units this season. Northern Illinois had one of the better rush defenses in the conference last season, but that isn't likely to stop Patterson from getting his numbers.
Value Back
Bryson Denley, RB, Bowling Green -- Bowling Green typically splits carries between its backs and its QB, so Denley's floor isn't great, but he has a high ceiling. He led the team in rushing last season with 544 yards and four touchdowns, and tonight the Falcons offense will be going against a Toledo rush defense that was one of the worst in the conference last season. In 2019, Toledo's rush success rate against of 45.7% ranked 11th in the MAC and 112th nationally. 
Full lineup advice
SportsLine's team of DFS insiders has you covered for daily fantasy sports. Mike McClure has won almost $2 million playing DFS, and Jacob Gibbs was ranked as one of the nation's most accurate Fantasy experts last year. Plus, use SportsLine's all-new DFS Optimizer to get optimal NFL DFS picks from 10,000 simulations.
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