Bowling Green Falcons (5-3 SU, 3-5 ATS) vs. Akron Zips (4-4 SU, 2-6 ATS)
NCAA Football Week 11
Date and Time: Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 8:00 pm EST
Where: InfoCision Stadium Summa Field, Akron, Ohio
TV: ESPN2, DirecTV 209
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: B.Green +5/Akron -5
Over/Under Total: OFF
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After giving the Tuesday Night spotlight to the Sun Belt Conference in the early weeks of the college football season, the primetime spot on ESPN2 will once again feature a clash of two teams out of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) when the East Division-leading Bowling Green Falcons travel to Infocision Stadium to take on the second-place Akron Zips in a crucial battle to gain the edge in the division title chase.
The Falcons have controlled the East Division in recent seasons, but they will limp into the Tuesday night affair with the Zips fresh off of an embarrassing loss at home to Western Michigan, 26-14, back on October 18th. Bowling Green was only able to gain 14 first downs and 271 yards of total offense in the loss, quite a drastic drop from the 455 yards of toffense he Falcons usually average each week.
But theyll face an Akron team that is in the midst of a two-game slide, losing to Ball State (35-21 on Oct. 25th) and Ohio (23-20 on Oct. 18) when the Zips were favored in both games by 3-points. The way the Zips have been playing of late is a far cry from the way they played earlier this year in their signature win, a 21-10 upset over Pittsburgh on the road back in late September. If the Zips hope to have any chance at a MAC-East title, they will need to turn things around quickly at home this week in primetime.
With the early line on this game only a few hours old, the Zips will open the contest on Tuesday as 5-point favorites at home. As of press time, the over/under total has yet to be released.
This game will certainly feature contrasting styles of play, as the Falcons are one of the top offense in the MAC this season despite playing without their best quarterback, while the Zips sport the conferences top-ranked defense.
Despite losing junior QB Matt Johnson to a season-ending hip injury after the season opener, the Falcons are still averaging 455 yards of offense (38th in FBS) and 33.6 points per game (3rd in the MAC). Sophomore James Knapke has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards already this season (1,958), but as is the case with most young starting QBs he has had his difficulties controlling turnovers with almost as many interceptions (9) as touchdown throws (10). Running back Travis Green (636 yards, 9 TD) has helped to lighten the load on Knapke, but against the Zips and their defense the Falcons will have their work cut out for them this week. Akrons defense is second in the MAC in total defense (360 ypg), 3rd in rush defense (134 ypg) and 4th versus the pass (226 ypg).
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If the Zips defense can get their offense the ball in good field position, the offense should have a decent chance at moving the ball because the Bowling Green defense, once the best in the MAC, is now one of the worst (12th in a 13 team league) allowing 543 yards a game. Granted that number is inflated due to the Falcons early non-conference opponents (Wisconsin and Indiana), but even a Zips offense led by QB Kyle Pohl should be able to move the chains successfully a few times over the course of the game on Tuesday. However, this Zips offense is not going to be confused with any of the other powerful offenses in the MAC, so a 5-point spread could turn out to be a tough number for the Zips to cover.
Another x-factor to consider for the game is the fact that Bowling Green has owned the series against the Zips of late, winning five straight games dating back to the 2007 season, including a 31-14 trouncing of them at home in Bowling Green last season. The results have been very similar as far as bettors are considered too, since the Falcons are 6-0 ATS in the last six games and a nearly perfect 3-0-1 ATS in their last four meetings played in Akron.
As a matter of fact, any wager on the Zips has to be fully vetted, especially since Akron is just 17-35-1 ATS in their last 53 MAC games and just 4-10 ATS in the last 14 games at home.
Typically these Tuesday night MAC games feature games that reach the 70 or 80 point total by the end of the full 60 minutes, so expect a large number for the over/under total once it is released. However, the over is 6-2 in Bowling Greens last 8 games on Tuesday night, and 4-1 in their last five on the road, but again thats more of a reflection of their non-conference schedule than any trend worth banking on long term.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This is a classic offense-vs.-defense matchup, which in the MAC is pretty rare. While I do like the Zips defense, Im not so sure they have the offensive firepower to pull away too far against the Falcons, despite the Falcons porous defense through eight games. If this game is still a 5-point spread at kickoff on Tuesday, Id be reluctant to wager on the Zips, even though they are 3-1 at home this season. Ill take Bowling Green plus the 5-points in this spot.