Week 8 Picks: The rivalries were easy ones

Funny enough, I never decided to do any game-picking posts all year, which is an indictment of where I’ve mentally been this entire season. But I have made my picks made through the Free on Saturday Pick ‘Em and through my private college pick ’em pool, so I’ll start off by telling you how bad I am at predicting the future.

Overall, I have a 47-15 record with weekly records (in order) of 10-1, 8-2, 7-3, 8-3, 5-3, 4-2 and 5-1. See, so I’m not that bad at picking games.

FIRST, A LOOK AT THE STANDINGS

MAC East MAC West
Team MAC (Overall) Last week Team MAC (Overall) Last week
Buffalo 3-0 (6-1) W vs. Akron, 24-6 NIU 4-0 (4-3) W vs. Ohio, 24-21
Miami 3-1 (3-4) W vs. Kent St., 31-6 WMU 3-0 (5-2) W @ BGSU, 42-35
Ohio 1-1 (3-3) L @ NIU, 21-24 Ball State 2-1 (3-4) W @ CMU, 24-23
Akron 0-2 (2-3) L @ Buffalo, 6-24 Toledo 1-1 (3-3) L @ EMU, 26-28
BGSU 0-3 (1-6) L vs. WMU, 35-42 EMU 1-3 (3-4) W vs. Toledo, 28-26
Kent State 0-3 (1-6) L @ Miami, 6-31 CMU 0-3 (1-6) L vs. Ball St., 23-24

FIRING UP ESPN+ FOR A CROSSOVER NOONER

Buffalo @ Toledo, noon (ESPN+)

This has been a crossover matchup that I’ve been excited to watch ever since the schedules came out. Buffalo’s currently in the driver’s seat to win the MAC East, and probably the league title, while Toledo’s looking a little shaky.

Toledo’s defense is really iffy and Buffalo doesn’t need to be on its best behavior on offense to have its way. Tyree Jackson, as insanely talented as he truly is, hasn’t been the most accurate passer this season. He had his way with Delaware State with six touchdowns on 27 throws, completed 80.8 percent of his passes against Eastern Michigan. But in those other five games? Jackson completed 51.7 percent of his throws with 7.0 yards per attempt with nine touchdowns and five interceptions.

I’m sort of burying the lede here, but Buffalo also leads the MAC in total defense (335.9) and scoring defense (21.7), which is bad news bears for the Rocket offense, which didn’t score a touchdown in the first half against Eastern Michigan. Granted, that game was on the road, but you’re also Toledo, so. Buffalo 45, Toledo 38.

WAGON WHEEL

Akron @ Kent State 3:30 p.m. (ESPN+)

Akron’s offense is poo soup, but Kent State’s offense isn’t nearly as good as Akron’s defense. A lot of the reason for the latter has to do with the pace of play Sean Lewis has this team playing at and it’s the first year for Woody Barrett, those receivers, those coaches all trying to settle in at Kent, Ohio, let alone trying to be all on the same page during the game. I don’t doubt that Akron will win the turnover battle. I also don’t doubt that this will be a really fun game between two pretty bad teams. Akron 22, Kent State 16.

FIVE-WIN SEASON TO SUPPORT THE TROOPS

Miami @ Army, noon (CBSSN)

Games against Army always come down to how good your defense can perform against the triple-option. S&P+ says Army is the 16th best team converting on third-and-long situations, 10th in third-and-medium and 29th in third-and-short, which is just annoying for defenses to prepare for. At 2.8 times per game, only Georgia Tech, NC State, Oklahoma and Alabama average fewer punts per game than Army.

So can Miami force Army to punt it three times? Four? If the ‘Hawks can get Army to punt it five times, which would be absolutely absurd, then they’ll be in a good position to win this game on the road, which they really need to be in contention for a bowl spot. If not, Miami’s going to have to all but sweep the rest of its conference slate, which still features Buffalo, Ohio and Northern Illinois. Army 28, Miami 21. 

BATTLE FOR THE CANNON

Western Michigan @ Central Michigan, 3 p.m. (ESPN+)

Fun fact: Assuming he gets the regular dosage of participation on Western Michigan’s offense, this will be LeVante Bellamy’s first full game in this rivalry. He caught one pass in his freshman season, but that’s all he’s contributed to the series.

I like Central’s defense, I hate its offense. Western’s offense is really fun, but the defense should give some passing opportunities for Tommy Lazzaro. WMU 48, CMU 28.

THE PELINI ERA, I GUESS

Bowling Green @ Ohio, 2 p.m. (ESPN3)

This game feels like such a trap door for Ohio. The Bobcats haven’t truly separated themselves like preseason MAC East favorites probably should, the defense is miserable and the offense, while good on the whole, is pretty inconsistent. Bowling Green sort of has a similar profile (good offense, bad defense), except it’s a little bit worse at both than Ohio is. Ohio 31, BGSU 17.

THE OTHER MAC WEST GAME

Eastern Michigan @ Ball State, 3 p.m. (ESPN+)

Oh, this one! Yeah, this game probably isn’t important in the grand scheme of things. EMU beat Toledo, but what good is that when you already have losses to WMU and NIU, too? The Cardinals are home, but if there was any shot of them winning this, they’d have to out-perform them on defense and they’d need the running backs to get going. The game can get super close (obviously), but it should still feel like a comfortable win for EMU. Or at least as comfortable as they know how to make things. EMU 33, Ball State 26.

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