Akron Zips (4-5 SU, 2-7 ATS) vs. Buffalo Bulls (3-6 SU, 3-6 ATS)
NCAA Football Week 12
Date and Time: Tuesday, November 11, 2014, 8:00 pm EST
Where: University at Buffalo Stadium, Amherst, N.Y.
TV: ESPNU, DirecTV 208
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Akr. -3.5/Buff. +3.5
Over/Under Total: 51
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Two Mid-American Conference East division teams struggling to find their way to the .500 mark will battle in a showcase Tuesday night game on ESPNU early this week, when the 4-5 Akron Zips go on the road to Amherst, New York, to take on the 3-6 Buffalo Bulls.
Both of these teams played last week in a MAC mid-week primetime game, with The Zips losing a back-breaker at home to Bowling Green, 27-10, on Tuesday night and the Bulls getting gutted by the Ohio Bobcats on Wednesday by a 37-14 score. Akron is now mired in a three-game losing streak, while the Bulls havent found the win column since September and have slipped down the slope into a four-game losing slide.
For the Zips it was a classic case of a missed opportunity last week against the Falcons, as they actually outgained Bowling Green 398-to-389 and finished with five more first downs then the Falcons, but five turnovers killed the Zips momentum every chance they seemed to get within striking distance. One of the Zips fumbles was returned for a score and quarterback Kyle Pohl was forced to throw 62 times in the game, a lopsided amount of throws that Akron just simply cant continue to repeat if they expect to finish out their final three games of the year in hopes to become bowl eligible.
For Buffalo, the Bulls never really had a chance last Wednesday against the Bobcats, falling behind 27-0 early in the third quarter and mounting very little resistance against Ohio on the road. The Bulls only had seven first downs and 134 yards of total offense to go along with four turnovers in a game that wasnt nearly as close as the 23-point difference on the scoreboard.
The good news for fans of these schools is that someone has to win this game, so oddsmakers have decided to install the Zips as surprising 3.5-point favorites on the road. As of press time, an over/under total has yet to be released.
As mentioned before, both offenses struggled mightily in last weeks games, so it will be interesting to see if they are capable of rebounding this week against each other. Ironically, both offensive units are very similar in scheme and in the end results.
Akrons Pohl is considered one of the better, stronger throwers in the MAC at quarterback and the Zips like to spread the field and create mismatches for him to take advantage of as the Zips throw for almost twice as many yards (262 ypg 42nd in FBS) as they gain in the running game (122 ypg-108th) each week. The Bulls defense used to be one of the stronger units in the MAC, but theyve been allowing an average of 32.5 points per game during their four-game slide, so as the competition has gotten stronger the Bulls have been giving up more big plays.
Buffalos offense has been forced to carry more of the burden in recent weeks and its been a colossal fail for the most part. QB Joe Licata has some excellent stats considering (2,199 yards, 20 TD, 10 INT), and he does tend to get more support in the running game (151 ypg 82nd) with Anthone Taylor carry most of the load (988 yards, 9 TD), but with the Bulls defense getting taken to the woodshed each week lately its clear that the Bulls are not very good when forced to play from way behind all the time. Akrons defense is middle of the pack in the MAC as far as yardage is concerned, but they stiffen in the red zone and do a good job of limiting the damage as they only allow 21 points per game, the 20th-best mark in all of FBS.
These two havent met on the gridiron since 2011, in a 51-10 whoopin handed out by the Bulls at home in November. Buffalo has actually enjoyed a nice run versus the Zips of late, winning four of the last five head-to-head meetings on the field. Prior to the 2007 season though this series was all Akron, as the Zips won five in a row from 2002 to 2007, including two games on the road in Buffalo during that stretch.
Not only has Buffalo enjoyed this series of late on the scoreboard, but theyve covered the point spread in five of the last seven meetings as well. Most of that has come as the underdog too, since the underdog is 5-2 ATS in the last seven head-to-head meetings as well.
The strongest play on Tuesday could be the under, especially since the under is 5-2 in the last seven head-to-heads between these two schools. The under is also 13-3 in the Zips last 16 road games, and 13-6 in the Bulls last 19 MAC conference games as well.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: While I suspect most football fans, even diehard MAC fans will be watching the battle for first-place in the MAC-West on the other ESPN channel, there will be some degenerates looking for an easy wager in this game. Good luck on that one. While I dont have a great feeling about either of these teams, I dont think the Bulls can play any worse then they did last week. Im hoping home field if worth something to Buffalo, so Ill lean to the home dog in this game. Ill take Buffalo plus the points.