It’s been all-MACtion all the time this week — we’ve already plowed through three weeks, with absolutely nothing in the way of upsets or division-changing results. Buffalo held serve on Tuesday, retaining its lead in the East. And, tonight promises to be different.
The second place teams in both divisions face off tonight in the Rust Belt — Ohio travels to Kalamazoo with the winner of the Ohio Bobcats-WMU Broncos game expected to be a good one. This one is at 6:00 CST on the CBSSN. The line opened at Ohio -2, and that has moved to -3.5. Neither team has a decent defense, but WMU is far more porous and will probably get bullied at the point of attack. Solich’s group as a road favorite is not a bad play, or so MAC insiders have assured me.
Terry Bowden’s Akron Zips, sitting at .500 in MAC play host the East-leading NIU Huskies. When last we saw Northern Illinois they were on the roads shutting out the home BYU Cougars. The Huskies are less than a TD favorite, and this one should be a low-scoring defensive struggle. But, take NIU at -6. The game is also on the CBSSN at 6:00 CST — presumably one of these games will be on their streaming service.
But, by far the game of the night is the first real test of the season for the No. 9 UCF Knights. They had a tough road trip to a now-reeling Memphis team — and looked awful trying to stop the run along the way. UCF hosts the 5-3 Temple Owls, who come into this game with the nation’s No. 4-ranked passing defense. The bad news for the Owls? Temple’s running defense isn’t much better than UCF’s — both are 90th or below and give up at or above 4 YPC. UCF’s rushing offense is 7th in the nation, racking up over 213 YPG, and they’ll need it (more later.)
Temple’s running game is woeful, just 133 YPG. If the Owls hope to spring the upset, it will have to be through the air. Collins’ team has an efficient passing game that’s had just three TOs all season, and the UCF defense is a meager 46th in the nation, despite playing one of the nation’s worst schedules. Also in the Owls favor? Uber-AAC QB McKenzie Milton is questionable for this game, and is fighting through injuries — a nagging sprained ankle and a gimpy throwing shoulder. The spread is UCF -11.5, and given the state of the defenses, and this being the first tough game for UCF, I’d take the Owls. They may not get the straight-up win, but this won’t be a picnic for the Knights. The game is at 6:30 Central on ESPN2.
Tonight, we are all Owls. (Or so I presume.)