Buffalo Bulls vs. Central Michigan Chippewas (11/9 @ 7:00 PM EST)
Money Line: Buffalo -125 / CMU +105
Overview and Betting
The Buffalo Bulls (5-4) will visit the Central Michigan Chippewas (3-6) for some Wednesday night MAC-tion. CMU leads the overall series 7-3, but the Bulls have won the last two matchups.
Buffalo has performed well against the spread, going 6-2-1. This includes going 4-1-1 on the road. CMU has struggled to cover spreads, going 3-5-1 on the season, and is 0-3-1 at home.
Both teams have gone under the point total in three of their last five games, but they’ve gone over in their previous two.
After starting the season 0-3, Buffalo has gone on to win five of their next six games. They’re coming off a blowout loss to Ohio last week but remain atop their division heading into Wednesday. They’ll need a win Wednesday if they want a chance to win the MAC.
The offense is averaging 383 yards and scoring 30 points per game. They’re led by quarterback Cole Snyder, who is in his first year after transferring from Rutgers. He’s thrown for 2,145 yards and fourteen touchdowns while adding another four touchdowns on the ground. While he’s thrown for yardage, his accuracy has been an issue. He’s completing under 60% of his passes, which is down after completing under 57% in his last two games. He won’t overwhelm defenses, but he is the driving reason behind this team’s hot streak.
Snyder has connected well with receivers Justin Marshall and Quian Williams. Their stats are even, and the pair have combined for 1,083 yards and ten touchdowns. They’ll be the top two the Chippewas secondary will focus on but watch for speedster Jamari Gassett to get looks deep. He’s done a lot with a little this season, breaking out for big plays several times this year.
Buffalo’s run game is split between two running back in, Mike Washington and Ron Cook Jr. While they have 130 combined carries, they’ve struggled to find consistency. It’s led to the Bulls ranking in the bottom half of the MAC in all significant rushing stats, despite having two running back over 500 yards on the ground. They’ll need more production Wednesday as they face a solid CMU run defense.
The Buffalo defense is allowing 400 yards to opposing teams. They’re fourth in the MAC against the pass but tenth against the run. Still, they’ve allowed the third-fewest points in the MAC. Linebackers Shaun Dolac and James Patterson have been great, with a combined 175 tackles, two sacks, and eight pass deflections. They are supported in the secondary by the uber-talented Marcus Fuqua. The safety has five interceptions, five pass deflections, and two fumble recoveries.
Central Michigan Chippewas
CMU has had a tough season. They’ve struggled against good teams all season, leading them to lose three of their last five. The Chippewas did get a win last week against a bad Northern Illinois, meaning Wednesday will be a chance to win back-to-back games for the first time this year.
The CMU offense is statistically similar to the Bulls, averaging 391 yards per game. The unit is led by quarterback Daniel Richardson, who has thrown for 1,893 yards and fifteen touchdowns. He was out two weeks ago, and he’s struggled lately. Richardson hasn’t thrown over 250 yards since October 1 and is completing just 56% of his passes. While he’s still the top quarterback, Freshmen Jace Bauer has looked much better in limited time. Richardson needs a big day to keep his job, and he’ll look for receiver Carlos Carriere (478 yards, 2TD) and tight end Joel Wilson (445 yards, 6 TDs) for help. They’re the biggest playmakers this offense has and have been Richardson’s favorite targets all season.
The CMU run game ranks among the middle of the pack in the MAC, led by grinding workhorse Lew Nichols. The sophomore running back has a ton of carries (160) but has managed just 561 yards. This is primarily due to him averaging a measly 3.3 yards per carry. The attack isn’t designed to break big plays but to pound and wear down opposing defenses. Nichols has gone for over 90 yards despite the low average in three of his last five games. Given the state of the Buffalo run defense, look for Nichols to increase that average on Wednesday.
The Chippewas defense is allowing 362 yards per game. The secondary ranks among the middle of the MAC, but the run defense has allowed the second least rushing yards in the MAC. Defensive lineman Thoman Incoom has broken out this year with a career-best 8.5 sacks, which is second-best in FBS. The big man has at least one sack in each of his previous five games, and he could be in for a big night against a Buffalo offensive line that’s given up 23 sacks.
Free Pick: Buffalo -2
Despite their loss last week, Buffalo has shown they can beat the top teams in this conference. They’ve given Toledo and Bowling Green their only conference losses and have put up 30+ points in three of their last four games. Conversely, CMU’s two conference wins came against Northern Illinois (1-4 in MAC) and Akron (0-5 in MAC). When they’ve played the conference better teams, they’ve failed to score more than 20 points. While we’re worried about Incoom getting to lose in the backfield, we think Marcus Fuqua is a more significant threat to sway this game from the defensive side. A ball-hawk safety against a quarterback with accuracy issues, and you get some critical turnovers. We’re giving up the two points to roll with Buffalo.