There is some Thursday night MAC action this week and the home standing Eastern Michigan Eagles look attractive getting nearly three touchdowns from rival Western Michigan.
A MAC rivalry get renewed on prime time on national television Thursday night and the humongous home underdog seems to offer value when the Western Michigan Broncos (4-3, 4-3 ATS) make the short trip to pay a visit to the Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-7, 3-4-1 ATS) at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, MI at 7:30 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Eastern Michigan as a huge home underdog for this contest with the current line at +20 with odds of -106.
Improved Offense for Eastern Michigan
Eastern Michigan has been one of the worst teams in the entire country for several years, but even though the Eagles are only 1-7 so far again this year including 0-4 in the MAC, they have made some very nice strides offensively that have helped them go 3-4-1 ATS, averaging 27.4 points and 405.5 yards per game, a huge jump from the meager 15.2 points and 290.0 yards they averaged last year.
Western Michigan on the other hand has been the winning college football pick in all three if its MAC games, leaving the Broncos one-half game behind the nationally ranked and undefeated Toledo Rockets (7-0, 4-0 in the MAC) in the West Division. It is noteworthy that Western Michigan and Toledo close out the season against each other in a game that as of now looks like it can have huge conference ramifications.
Covered the Spread vs. LSU
Eastern Michigan is in a brutal stretch in its schedule after visiting Toledo and Northern Illinois the last two weeks, at least managing a ‘push’ vs. NIU on Saturday losing 49-21 as a 28-point underdog. Now, the Eagles get to return home and face a Western Michigan team that has not been as stout defensively as those last two opponents. And do not forget Eastern actually put up 22 points in a covering 44-22 loss to LSU in Baton Rouge during non-conference play.
Thus the Eagles should be able to put points up here, led by the multi-faceted running back Darius Jackson, who is one yard shy of 800 rushing yards this year while averaging a hefty 5.5 yards per carry with a nice 12 rushing touchdowns, while also adding 186 receiving yards on 10.3 yards per catch with one receiving touchdown.
Overall, Eastern Michigan is averaging 179.8 rushing yards per game on 5.0 yards per carry as a team, and the Eagles can have success on the ground here vs. a soft WMU run defense, which is a nice trait for a prohibitive underdog like this.
Bad Run Defense for Western Michigan
Western Michigan may be undefeated in the conference and the Broncos even battled Michigan State tough while covering ATS in a season opening 37-24 loss, but the run defense remains a serious concern with the Broncos allowing 173.3 rushing yards per game in a generous 5.2 yards per carry. And even the pass defense has sprung leaks now and then despite allowing just 245.6 passing yards per game, as those yards have come on a rather high 7.8 yards per pass.
Then again, the Western Michigan offense should also have success here, especially on the ground as Eastern Michigan is dead last among the 128 FBS teams in rushing defense allowing an ungodly 340.5 yards per game. The issue there in regard to this big spread though is that running the ball uses up clock, and when you combine time-consuming WMU drives with EMU also expected to have some offensive success, covering as a 20-point favorite becomes dicey.
EMU Has Held Its Own in Series
Finally, Eastern Michigan has held its own in this rivalry going 4-1 ATS in the last five head-to-head meetings despite being the underdog in every one of those games, including three outright upsets with two of those coming as double-digit dogs!
When you then add in both teams probably running the ball a lot in this contest and thus burning some clock, getting almost three touchdowns with Eastern Michigan seems even more attractive as its hosts Western Michigan on CBS Sports Network on Thursday.
College Football Pick: Eastern Michigan +20 (-106)