Buffalo Bulls vs. Ball State Cardinals prediction ATS 11/23/21
When: Tuesday, November 23, 7 p.m.
Where: Schuemann Stadium, Muncie, Ind.
Point Spread: BUFF +6.5/BALL -6.5 (GTBets - Bet your Turkey Week football picks for FREE by scoring a 100% bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 there!)
Total: O/U 58.5
The season has completely collapsed for these teams, who have combined to lose six of their past eight games and put themselves in a position neither thought they’d be in at the start of the year. Last year, these teams met for the MAC title game, but this year, both of them could miss the postseason entirely.
Buffalo will be out of the postseason, as the Bulls can do no better than 5-7 after falling in overtime to Northern Illinois and watching the Huskies walk away with the MAC title. The Bulls have nobody but their defense to blame for their predicament, as they previously handed Bowling Green its only win of the MAC season by allowing 56 points to a team that otherwise averaged 18 points per game.
Meanwhile, Ball State took a big step backward this season after winning the MAC last year, watching their offense dip to 24.8 points per game. The Cardinals never really found a way to replace Caleb Huntley after last season, and while their top running back from a year ago toils for the Atlanta Falcons’ practice squad, the Cardinals haven’t been able to count on any of their current backs. Worse, Drew Plitt has had to do too much in response, leading to teams loading up against the pass and slowing that down. The Cardinals only managed 329 yards of offense against a Central Michigan defense that hadn’t been stopping anyone last week, and both the passing and rushing offenses rank in the bottom half of the nation. That said, the Cardinals do actually have something to play for here: a win would make them eligible for a second straight bowl game, which would be the first time the Cardinals had played in consecutive bowls since 2013.
How the Public is Betting the Buffalo/Ball State Game
The public seems to think that desperation means that Ball State is going to come out with something to prove, as the spread has ticked up half a point to -6.5 from the opening of -6. The total has remained unchanged at 58.5.
Defensive end Taylor Riggins (undisclosed) and defensive end Max Michel (undisclosed) are questionable. Quarterback Kyle Vantrease (arm) and wide receiver Jovany Ruiz (knee) are out.
Tight end Dylan Koch (undisclosed), offensive lineman Kaleb Slaven (undisclosed), and running back Tye Evans (leg) are out. Wide receiver Justin Hall (undisclosed) is questionable.
When Buffalo Has the Ball
Losing Kyle Vantrease at quarterback didn’t help matters, but Buffalo wasn’t a good passing team before Vantrease went out with an arm injury. Matt Myers did a capable job coming in against Northern Illinois, but the Bulls are still going to focus on running the ball far more than passing it, as they’ll rely on Dylan McDuffie to try to get through a Ball State defense that hasn’t had much success at stopping the run.
McDuffie isn’t quite as good as Lew Nichols, who lit up the Cardinals for 219 yards and three scores, but he’s still good enough to do a fair amount of damage to the Ball State front seven. However, Buffalo is far more run-dependent than Central Michigan, which had a capable passing attack to back up Nichols and prevent the Cardinals from focusing all of their attention on him. Buffalo doesn’t have that with Myers, which could allow Ball State to bring extra defenders against the run and dare the Bulls to beat them through the air. Ball State’s pass defense is not good by any definition, but the Bulls don’t pass unless they have to, so the Cardinals wouldn’t be risking much by forcing Myers to try to win the game.
When Ball State Has the Ball
There’s not a lot of good things to say about the Cardinals’ offense, as they’ve really slipped from last season. The Cardinals have shown signs of good play at times, as they reeled off a three-game cover stretch in October, but since their win over Eastern Michigan, Ball State has looked a little bit off. The Cardinals haven’t been getting blown out by any means, but they lost a winnable game with Northern Illinois and another winnable matchup with Miami to put themselves in this position.
Against Central Michigan, Carson Steele got 20 carries but only managed 93 yards on a Central Michigan defense that hadn’t really been putting up a great fight against most MAC offenses. That left the job to Drew Plitt and his receiving corps, who also couldn’t get much going. Plitt threw 39 passes in the contest but notched just 170 yards, not exactly what’s needed to keep up with CMU’s attack. There’s a reason that the under has cashed in six of Ball State’s past eight games, and it’s not because the Cardinals have been playing great defense. That said, Buffalo’s run defense is a lot weaker than Central Michigan, so Steele could be a more significant factor than in recent games.
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When these teams do meet, they don’t tend to play close games. Only one of the last ten meetings has been decided by less than eight points, with the previous year’s MAC title game being a 38-28 result for the Cardinals. There is a trend working in the Bulls’ favor here, as the underdog has covered in six consecutive matchups in this series. But Buffalo hasn’t exactly done the job during MACtion; the Bulls are just 1-6-1 ATS in their past eight matchups in the league.
It’s going to be a chilly night in Muncie, but that’s the only real weather issue to worry about. Temperatures will hit 31 degrees, with the wind blowing at nine miles per hour to the south.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
Ball State should be able to move the ball a little easier in this game. Buffalo has been just awful on the road against anyone other than bottom-feeder Akron, and the Cardinals are both at home and have the carrot of a possible bowl to play for. I can’t see the Bulls matching their intensity just to get to 5-7 and play spoiler; I’ll take the Cardinals here. What more free bets? Bet your Thanksgiving Day predictions for FREE by taking advantage of a 100% REAL CASH bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $300 at MyBookie Sportsbook! (Must use bonus code PREDICT100 when signing up).
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