THE FAVORITE: BUFFALO
Buffalo and Ohio are the 3-1 co-favorites in the MAC championship game future book at the Westgate SuperBook, but we give the edge to the Bulls. Why? Because of an offense led by running back Jaret Patterson (1,799 yards rushing and 18 TDs last year) and a defense that returns seven starters and allowed just 21.3 points per game. No other team is as balanced as Buffalo, but the Bulls will have to hold off defending MAC champion Miami (Ohio) and Ohio to claim the East Division and get to the MAC title game. Toledo and Central Michigan, the top teams in the West, are 6-1 to win the conference title game, as they appear to be a cut below.
LIVE DOG: BALL STATE
The Cardinals are 10-1 to win the championship, and that looks like good betting value. Ball State led the MAC with 463 yards and 35 points per game last season, and expect more of the same. Quarterback Drew Plitt and the offense should be able to keep up with anyone on the conference-only schedule against a lot of defensively challenged teams. The Cardinals should also be worth a play anytime as underdogs or short favorites.
DEAD MONEY: AKRON
It’s hard to think of any MAC team as a dead dog, since the league’s motto should be: “Any team can beat any other team on any given Saturday … or Tuesday … or Wednesday.” But the Zips are the exception to the rule. They went 0-12 SU last year and an even more embarrassing — considering how many points they were usually getting — 1-11 ATS. Bet on the ZIps at your own risk.