This Thursday the Ball State Cardinals (2-8, 0-6 MAC) will host the Buffalo Bulls (4-6, 2-4 MAC). Kickoff is set for 7:00 EST at Scheumann Stadium and will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.
Oddsmakers currently have the Bulls listed as a 20.5-point road favorite with the total set at 56.5 points. Check out our Week 12 NCAAF odds page for a full betting schedule and more links to our game previews.
Buffalo vs Ball State Vegas Betting Odds & Game Preview
The Bulls come into this one off 38-28 win at home over Bowling Green as a 7-point favorite. The win snapped Buffalo’s 4 game losing streak and kept their hopes of becoming bowl eligible alive. The Bulls still need to win their final two games to reach the 6-win mark. With the cover, Buffalo improved their record against the spread for 2017 to 7-3.
The Cardinals enter off an ugly 17-63 loss at Northern Illinois as a 28.5-point underdog. It continued a horrific stretch for Ball State, who is now 0-6 SU and 0-6 ATS inside conference play. That’s now four straight games in which the Cardinals have failed to score at least 20 points, while allowing 56 or more points.
Last year Ball State won 31-21 at Buffalo, but it was the Bulls who snuck in the cover as an 11-point home dog. That game also was nearly right on the number with the total, as it stayed under by a 1/2-point with the total at 52.5.
NCAA Football Predictions & Free Pick Against the Spread: Buffalo -20.5
I don’t know how you could even think about backing Ball State in this one. The Cardinal have shown no reason to think they can keep a game competitive. Their smallest margin of defeat inside MAC play is a 28-point loss at Akron. The other 5 have all come by at least 42 points. It’s really not asking a lot for Buffalo to win here by 3 touchdowns.
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I believe that part of the reason we aren’t seeing a bigger spread is because the Bulls come into this game with a losing record at 4-6 and are just 2-4 in conference play. However, Buffalo’s not as bad as you might think. All 6 of their losses have come by 10-points or less, with 4 of them by 4-points or less. The Bulls could very easily have 7 wins right now and I think that’s how you have to treat them.
The big concern anytime you have a bad team like Ball State is the opponent not giving their full attention. I don’t see that being a problem. Not only are the Bulls going to be out for revenge from last year’s loss to the Cardinals (lost 3 straight overall), but they have to win out to become bowl eligible. Note that getting to a bowl is a big deal, as they haven’t been since 2013 and only been twice in program history.
Buffalo should also have zero problem here putting up a big number offensively. The Bulls come in 44th in the country 427 yards/game, behind a potent passing attack that ranks 24th at 285 yards/game. Not only will they be able throw it all over the Cardinals, but they should be able to run it at will, as Ball State has allowed 220+ rushing yards in each of their last 4 games.
At the same time, the Cardinals offer no threat of scoring when they have the ball. Ball State has scored 17 or fewer points in every single MAC game this season and Buffalo is no slouch defensively, as they have held 7 of their 10 opponents to 24 or less points. Give me the Bulls.