Week 10 MACtion Wednesday games feature Ball State vs. Bowling Green; Kent State vs. Akron
Wednesday MACtion features one of the most anticipated rivalry games of the season. Okay, so maybe not, but the battle for the Wagon Wheel between Kent State and Akron is the Super Bowl for these two teams, given that making an actual bowl game is not in the cards.
In the other Mid-American Conference clash, Ball State visits Bowling Green, which is the game that I have a stronger opinion on. So, we’ll lead with that and then look at the rivalry game between schools that are just 14 miles apart by roadways and even closer as the crow flies.
Odds as of 10/30, 1:50 p.m. PT
The 2023 season has been quite interesting for these two teams. Ball State secured its first win over a FBS opponent last time out against Central Michigan, but the Cardinals had a miserable non-conference schedule that featured Kentucky, Georgia, and Georgia Southern. They still lost their first three MAC games to Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and Toledo, but lost a close one to the Rockets in Muncie before beating the Chippewas last week.
Bowling Green actually went on the road and beat Georgia Tech, who just beat a top-20 team for the second time this season with a win over North Carolina after previously beating Miami. The Falcons are 4-4, but their losses are to undefeated Liberty, undefeated Michigan, and then Ohio and Miami (OH), thought to be two of the top teams in the conference this season. Ball State doesn’t fit that definition.
Defense has ruled the day for these two in conference action. Bowling Green has only allowed 4.73 yards per play in MAC games, while Ball State has allowed 4.82. Offensively, the Cardinals actually hold the edge with 5.08 compared to 4.82 for the Falcons, but the RedHawks and Bobcats have two of the better defenses in the league.
Both teams have had QB issues. Connor Bazelak, Camden Orth, and Hayden Timosciek have combined for an 8/12 TD/INT ratio this season. Bazelak, who transferred from Missouri, has been banged-up throughout the season and shared time with Orth, who is more of a dual-threat guy, last time out. When both are healthy, Bazelak is the starter and that should be the case here.
No matter the QB, the most important offensive player for the Falcons is RB Terion Stewart, who has rushed for over 100 yards in four of the last five games and is averaging 6.1 yards per carry. The offense runs through Stewart and it should again here as well.
Ball State went with sophomore QB Kiael Kelly last time out, as veteran Layne Hatcher and backup Kadin Semonza have both seen time as well. Kelly gives the team a different dimension as a runner with 343 yards and 5.3 yards per carry, so I’d anticipate he starts here. Ball State had scored 16 points in the previous two games combined, though Kelly was 4-of-16 for 38 yards and a pick against Toledo, so he was a big part of that offensive dud.
I like Bowling Green here. My line on the game shows good value on the Falcons and I think they’re definitely the better team and have been challenged more by the better side of the division.
Pick: Bowling Green -6
Other Wednesday Game
Kent State at Akron (-3.5, 38.5): Kent State has won four straight in this rivalry by a combined score of 166-65, but the Golden Flashes are a shell of what they were in that stretch. Former head coach Sean Lewis is calling plays for Deion Sanders at Colorado and Kent State came into the season with virtually no returning production on offense.
These are two awful football teams, though. Both are 0-4 in MAC play and 1-7 with wins over FCS teams. At least Kent State crushed Central Connecticut 38-10. Akron needed a blocked punt touchdown to beat Morgan State earlier this year. The Zips are also without QB DJ Irons, who suffered a torn ACL. The replacements – Jeff Undercuffler Jr. and Tahj Bullock – have combined for a 3/9 TD/INT ratio.
I’d lean Kent State just because neither team deserves to be a favorite, but this will be ugly.