MAC Week 4 Overview: It's a Reach to Think NIU Can Hang With FSU

Monday, September 17, 2018 5:11 PM UTC

Monday, Sep. 17, 2018 5:11 PM UTC

Florida State is reeling after beginning the year 1-2 with Willie Taggart in charge in Tallahassee. The Seminoles will host Northern Illinois this week, so let's discuss the matchup and all Week 4 MAC games.

Swinger’s 2018 MAC ATS Record: 1-2

MAC Spotlight: Northern Illinois (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) at FSU (1-2 SU, 0-3 ATS)Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU)Free NCAAF Pick: Florida State -10Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

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Florida State fans have to be either yearning for or cursing at Jimbo Fisher for taking the money and running to Texas A&M after a successful tenure at the helm of the FSU football program. Willie Taggart has taken over in Tallahassee but if things don’t turn around in a hurry after a rocky 1-2 start, then the former Oregon coach may be but an asterisk in the school’s coaching history. After dropping their opener to Virginia Tech 24-3, the Seminoles notched a dubious 36-26 win over lightly regarded Samford and never came close to cashing as 31-point home favorites for all those who included FSU in their college football picks. Last week Florida State hit the road and the road hit them right back as they suffered a 30-7 setback at Syracuse.

Northern Illinois recorded their first win of the season after defeating Central Michigan but failed to cover the 13-point impost in their 24-16 home victory. Sophomore quarterback Marcus Childers went only 11-of-18 for 109 yards but had three touchdown passes, plus 28 yards rushing. Fellow sophomore Tre Harbison chewed up 124 yards of rushing on just 13 carries. It was a solid win but one that was not expected to be quite as close, and now the Huskies will have to travel to meet what should be a very angry Florida State squad.

Much more is expected of a big-time college football program like Florida State versus a MAC entry and despite FSU’s lackluster play thus far, the college football odds being dealt at the major online sportsbooks reflect them as double-digit home chalk. There’s a reason for that and it’s called depth and talent. The Noles are 6-0 ATS over their last six versus a team with a losing record and are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 non-conference games, while Northern Illinois is 1-4 ATS over their last five road tilts. FSU not only wins on Saturday but get their first ATS cover.

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GARNET x GOLD. 🌟
(via @fsufootballeq)#DoSomething pic.twitter.com/kbq8x6Z9fD

— FSU Football (@FSUFootball) September 17, 2018
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Around the MAC (All Games Saturday)

Buffalo (-3½) at Rutgers, noon ET, on BTN: Buffalo posted their third win in three games this season with a 35-28 victory over conference foe Eastern Michigan and covered as three-point favorites, while Rutgers is smarting after a 55-14 pasting at the hands of Kansas last weekend. The Bulls are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games in September and 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight-up win, whereas the Scarlet Knights are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games following a straight-up loss. The Bulls should keep on stampeding this weekend.

Akron at Iowa State (-18½), noon ET, on ESPN+: Iowa State claimed a 41-14 decision over the Zips in Akron last season as 10-point road chalk and is now favored by 18½ at home. The Cyclones delivered a gritty performance last week in a 37-27 defeat to No. 5 Oklahoma and should be stout enough to handle an undefeated Akron team that may have a letdown after a huge 39-34 road win over Northwestern.

Ohio at Cincinnati (-9½), noon ET, on ESPNU: The Bearcats have won and covered all three of their games this season with the latest being a 63-7 dismantling of FCS Alabama A&M last week. Conversely, the Bobcats narrowly edged Howard as 31-point favorites in their opener and dropped a 45-31 decision to Virginia. Cincinnati is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a straight-up win of more than 20 points and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games.

Kent State at Mississippi (-28½), noon ET, on SEC: Ole Miss was battered 62-7 by the top team in the nation and SEC rival Alabama, while the Golden Flashes were beaten up 63-10 by Penn State. Nevertheless, Kent State stood tall in defeat against Illinois in their opener and the line looks inflated here by a betting public that is counting on Ole Miss to redeem themselves after their drubbing last week. Grab the big head start with the Flashes against an overrated Rebels squad.

Nevada at Toledo (-10½), noon ET, on CBSC: Toledo won and covered in Nevada last season by the score of 37-24 as 11-point road favorites and is poised to do so again as their opponents are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 games in September and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games.

Western Michigan (-7½) at Georgia State, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN+: Georgia State did not emerge unscathed in their 59-22 loss to Memphis last week and one of those dinged up is punter Brandon Wright. The Panthers may need his leg because the Broncos' defense is expected to pin back their offense throughout. The Broncos are 4-1 ATS in their last five after allowing less than 170 yards passing in their previous game.

Western Kentucky at Ball State (-3½), 3 p.m. ET, on ESPN3.com: Both teams have had gritty losses to big-name schools this season with the Hilltoppers getting edged 20-17 last week in Louisville as 23-½-point underdogs while the Cardinals battled the Irish in South Bend to a 24-16 setback as 34-point road pups. WKU handled Ball State at home last year 33-21 but is 1-8 ATS in their last 9 games in September.

Miami-Ohio (-5) at Bowling Green, 3 p.m. ET, on ESPN+: Neither team in this MAC showdown has covered themselves in glory in the early going as Miami-Ohio is 0-3 straight up and against the number while Bowling Green is 1-2 straight up and 0-3 ATS. However, Green Falcons quarterback Jarret Doege rallied the troops late in the fourth quarter of their 42-35 win over Eastern Kentucky and ended with four passing TDs and 258 yards through the air. Grab the points in what should be a momentum builder for the home team.

Maine at Central Michigan (TBD), 3 p.m. ET: Central Michigan has dropped their first three games but should pick up a W against FCS Maine. There is currently no line on this game but 5Dimes may be dealing this game in their college extra section as the week progresses.

Eastern Michigan at San Diego State (-10), 10:30 p.m. ET, on CBSC: San Diego State running back Juwan Washington has an undisclosed injury but is expected to suit up on Saturday, and Aztecs senior quarterback Christian Chapman was out last week and has been ruled out indefinitely. The Eagles have trends galore going for them in this game such as 7-0 ATS in their last 7 games following an ATS loss, 9-1-1 ATS in their last 11 road games vs. a team with a winning home record, and 14-3 ATS in their last 17 non-conference games.

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