The motivational factor of bowl-potential vs no-postseason-hopes has not been heeded by bookies too often this season…so far. The odds and point spread for Friday night’s UNLV at New Mexico contest, for instance, seem to ignore that the Rebels have a chance to qualify for a bowl, and the Lobos likely do not.
It’s as if odds-makers were saving it all up for Buffalo at Ball State. The Bulls and Cardinals have had similar seasons to this point, each showing promise early-on before the dam broke. Buffalo began its 2017 with noble, if-losing efforts at Minnesota and Army, then won 3 in a row thanks to an above-average defense. The Bulls lost an epic 7-overtime scrum to WMU the following week, though, and have won only once since then. Ball State showed similar sparks during a 2-2 start, but a loss to Western Michigan set their season on a dark path as well. The Broncos beat the Indianans 55-3, ushering-in a nightmarish string of blow-out losses.
But the point spread is all Buffalo. The Bulls are only 4-6, and know they have a winnable game and a shot to reach 6-6…even though a MAC school reaching the postseason at 6-6 is far from certain.
Who: Buffalo Bulls at Ball State Cardinals
When: Thursday, November 16th, 7 PM EST
Where: Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, IN
Lines: Buffalo (-20) at BSU (+20) / O/U Total: (56.5)
The Bulls showed life in a 38-28 win over Bowling Green last weekend. Passer Tyree Jackson had an excellent day with 400+ yards, and 3 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. But it’s no use going into the subtleties. Buffalo is a competent, mid-level MAC team having a bad season – the question is, can Ball State compete with that?
It’s looking more and more like the Cardinals can’t. For whatever reason – injuries, coaching, poor recruiting – Ball State is getting blown-out by also-ran conference rivals. Eastern Michigan beat them 56-17 just 2 weekends ago.
The Cardinal stat line is almost a comedy. They’ve tried 4 quarterbacks – Jack Milas, the passer with by-far the most attempts, has thrown 0 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. The top rusher, Caleb Huntley, has 700 yards…but is nowhere near the team lead in TDs, showing that opponents are bottling him up nicely.
Ball State’s defense is horrible – let’s just leave it at that.
Ball State has whipped Buffalo over the last 10 years of the rivalry. That’s going to change Thursday night, when a decent team fighting to stay alive visits a dead fish in the water.
Take the Bulls to cover (-20) points.