MAC Daddies: Ball State Hits the Magic Number Versus CMU

Jason Lake

Friday, October 12, 2018 11:47 AM UTC

Friday, Oct. 12, 2018 11:47 AM UTC

The Central Michigan Chippewas may have been a solid college football pick when the Week 7 lines first opened, but the Ball State Cardinals are the better choice at these odds.

Jason’s 2018-19 NCAAF picks record: 10-6 ATS; 0-1 ML (minus-1.00 units), 0-1 Totals

Ball State at Central MichiganSaturday, 3 p.m. ET, Mount Pleasant (ABC)Free NCAAF Pick: CardinalsBest Line Offered: Heritage

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It took until Week 6, but one of our premium NCAAF line movers finally bit the dust. The Syracuse Orange (–3.5 away at the close) almost got the job done against the Pittsburgh Panthers, but they lost 44-37 in overtime. That’s the way the prolate spheroid bounces.

Undaunted, we turn our attention to the Week 7 college football odds, and an otherwise unheralded MAC matchup between the Ball State Cardinals (2-4 SU, 3-3 ATS) and the Central Michigan Chippewas (1-5 SU, 4-2 ATS). This game opened as a pick ‘em, but at press time, it’s the Chippewas laying three points – even with the consensus reports showing 61 percent support for Ball State. What in the name of David Letterman is going on here?

Late Show Equations

You could definitely make a sharp case for putting CMU in your college football picks – as a pick ‘em. As a 3-point favorite? Not so much, according to the projections:

  • ESPN Football Power Index: CMU 55.6 percent
  • Equivalent Moneyline (using SBR Odds Converter): CMU –125
  • Equivalent Point Spread (via Wizard of Odds): CMU –2

If you’ve been reading this space for a while, you know about our special rule of thumb for NCAAF betting, handed down from David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth: We want a 2-point gap between the projections and the actual odds. So getting the Chippewas as a pick ‘em looks pretty good. But now that the lines have moved three points in their direction, we’re left with just a 1-point gap of potential profit margin with the Cardinals. Oh well. At least we tried.

FBS Mailbag

Don’t give up on Ball State just yet. That one point away from the magic number 3 is worth a lot of money, given how often college football games end in a victory margin of exactly three points – 9.63 percent of them, according to Wizard of Odds. And at press time, the Cardinals are available at +3 (–105), giving you an extra five cents of vigorish to play with compared to the standard –110 juice. Smell the value.

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Big props to Emeka Jillani for keeping a straight face while his DL teammates watch him do his first interview. 👍 @BallStateFB @JoelGodett pic.twitter.com/atsiGxJD5p

— Michael Clark (@MikeClarkBSU) October 9, 2018
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We’re also looking at two evenly matched teams for Saturday’s contest. Football Outsiders have Ball State ranked No. 108 out of the 130 FBS teams, one spot ahead of Central Michigan on their F/+ Combined Ratings. And the Chippewas haven’t performed very well at Kelly/Shorts Stadium; last year’s report by ESPN’s Brad Edwards and Seth Walder pegged CMU at minus-0.26 Points Above Expectation playing at home. Credit the Chippewas for loading up their non-con schedule with tough teams and covering three of their five losses as double-digit underdogs, but we’ll go with Ball State for a small wager in what should be a close, low-scoring affair.

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