College Football Picks: Central Michigan vs. Ball State

Willie Bee

Monday, November 4, 2013 1:55 PM UTC

Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 1:55 PM UTC

The Ball State Cardinals host the Central Michigan Chippewas Wednesday night at the Scheumann Stadium. Where do we believe the best value lies for our NCAAF pick?

Great conference races are currently in full swing coast-to-coast from the ACC to the Pac-12, but one of the best at the FBS level is in the Mid-American Conference where six of the 13 teams are still in the chase for the title game and at least an invite to one of three bowls with guaranteed MAC tie-ins.  And as we saw about 10 months ago, a BCS bowl bid isn't out of the question.

The Ball State Cardinals are one of the teams very much in the hunt for the MAC Championship Game as one of three squads still sporting unbeaten league marks.  Ball State will look to keep it that way Wednesday at home against the Central Michigan Chippewas in an 8 PM (ET) kickoff that can be seen on ESPN2.  The Week 11 tilt opened with the Cardinals giving up 21.5 points, but that spread was quickly slashed to 19.5 and now shows up at 19 at several outlets listed on SBR's live college football odds.

No total has been released on the contest, so stay tuned to to catch the number when it comes out.

That big spread obviously points to what is expected to be a one-sided affair, but the series is dead-level overall and the last 10 meetings.  The 45th clash between the two schools finds each team with 22 wins plus one tie back in 1989, and even at 5-5 the last 10 years.  That masks how the series has swung in BSU's favor with four wins in the most recent five meetings, covering each of the victories.

Last year's get-together in Mount Pleasant produced over 900 yards of offense as the Cardinals rolled to a 41-30 triumph to cash as 3-point road chalk.  It was the second consecutive 'over' after the 'under' prevailed three straight times from 2008-10.

Chippewas Hitting Field For 1st Time In 18 Days

Central Michigan's Dan Enos, now in his fourth year running the Chippewas, would love to see his offense break out with nearly 450 yards of offense like a year ago against Ball State.  That would be more than 100 yards above what the Chips are averaging per game in 2013 to rank 108th in the country.  Losing starting quarterback Cody Kater and tailback Zurlon Tipton early in the season opener at Michigan has so far proved impossible to overcome.

Saylor Lavalli has done a fair job as the feature back in the Chippewas attack, but redshirt freshman QB Cooper Rush has been in over his head at times.  His 10 interceptions are a big reason why Central Michigan is -3 in the turnover margin column.

Not all of the blame for CMU being 3-5 on the season (2-5-1 against the spread) goes to the offense.  The Chippewas are 93rd in the country allowing over 435 yards per game, and 103rd giving up 33.4 points per contest.

At least Enos has had plenty of time to try and correct matters on both sides of the ball.  Central Michigan hasn't played since Oct. 19 when Northern Illinois visited Mount Pleasant and dropped a 38-17 final on the Chippewas.  Any signs of rust could lead to this one being over quickly.

Cardinals In Dangerous Look-Ahead Spot

Ball State (8-1 straight up, 7-2 ATS) will have had extra time to prepare for this one as well with 10 days lapsing since picking up a sixth straight win at Akron on Oct. 26.  Third-year head coach Pete Lembo's biggest job this week will be keeping his crew from thinking ahead to the following Wednesday when the Cardinals travel to meet Northern Illinois, unbeaten overall and ranked 18th in the latest BCS Standings.

Senior Keith Wenning will be at the controls of the BSU offense that is averaging nearly 470 yards per game.  Wenning has a 23:5 TD/INT ratio, helping the Cardinals to a +7 turnover margin, and he's got a solid receiver corps led by Willie Snead who is third in the country with 1,057 yards and 10 touchdowns among his 65 receptions.

Wednesday's forecast for Muncie, IN isn't a good one with the weatherman calling for a 70% chance of rain during the day, and only tapering off to a 60% in the evening.  Fans at Scheumann Stadium should find the thermometer in the low-50s at game time before dropping into the 40s as the contest wears on.  Be sure to get an update before heading to the NCAA betting window.

The weather scares me a bit, but I do have confidence in the Cardinals taking care of business on Wednesday.  Wenning and the offense should be able to put up the points required to get this free college football pick cover.

NCAAF Pick: Ball State -19 at Bet365

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