I’m not sure what the slogan is for the Mid-American Conference or if it even has one. But among the betting community, the MAC is known as the place where the sharps hang out.
Every Sunday night, sportsbooks open the lines for college football’s upcoming slate and each week there are a handful of MAC games with odds jumping all over the board. If you ask someone in the know, they’ll tell you there are only three or four wagers on those games, but all of them were limit plays from well-respected handicappers.
Sharps are drawn to the mystery of the MAC. While BCS conferences get constant media coverage and the most care from the oddsmakers, smaller conferences – like the MAC – have softer lines and team news is a little harder to come by. If you’re willing to put in the work, there is value to be had in betting the MAC.
One of the MAC lines already on the move this week is the spread for Miami (Ohio) at Buffalo
. The Redhawks (4-4 SU, 2-6 ATS), coming off a huge upset over then-undefeated Ohio, are as big as 4-point road underdogs visiting the Bulls, who have just one win this season.
At first glance, this spread seems to be on the wrong side, with Buffalo picking up its only win against an FCS program. However, a closer look at the Bulls’ opponents may clear up the confusion.
Buffalo has faced an uphill climb all season, with its seven FBS opponents posting a combined record of 44-14 SU and featuring five one-loss teams - the only exceptions being Big East programs Pitt and UConn. Buffalo has also been an underdog in all but one of those FBS contests, giving 3-points to Kent State in Week 4.
The Bulls also returned star RB Bo Oliver – arguably the most explosive player in the MAC - in a 25-20 loss to Toledo last weekend. He rushed for 101 yards in his first game since suffering a knee sprain in that loss to the Golden Flashes in mid September.
Sharp MAC money has already moved this week's spread off the key number of -3 at post and took it as high as -4.5 before some buyback came in on Miami (Ohio).
Here are some other spreads making football bettors go “hmmm…”
as we head into the weekend:NCAAFTexas Longhorns at Texas Tech Red Raiders (-6.5, 67)
It’s been a while since the Red Raiders were handing the points to their hated rivals, the Longhorns. In fact, the last time Texas Tech was a favorite versus Texas was in 2004. Remember 2004? This is what 2004 looked like…ugh
The Horns hooked the Red Raiders for a 51-21 thrashing as 2.5-point road underdogs in that game, led by dynamic QB Vince Young and stud RB Cedric Benson. This year's version of Texas football doesn’t have the horses like the 2004 squad, but is still a dangerous team (averaging 41.5 points – eighth in the land).NFL
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Oakland Raiders (-1, 45.5)
The Bucs have been one of the best bets of the NFL season and finally managed to win and cover by exposing the Minnesota Vikings on national TV last Thursday, winning 36-17 as 5.5-point road underdogs.
Tampa Bay has been oh-so close in plenty of games this year, taking the fight to New York, Dallas Washington and New Orleans, and is much better than its 3-4 SU record suggests. But, books are expecting a letdown from the Buccaneers when they travel cross country to face the Raiders in Week 9.
Oakland is coming off back-to-back wins over Jacksonville and Kansas City, which means about as much as a Lindsay Lohan stint in rehab. Someone had to win those games. The Silver and Black have been faves three times this year and have failed to cover in all three. Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns (+3.5, 42.5)
Cleveland is playing better – we’ll be the first to admit that. But considering how bad the Browns have been there was nowhere to go but up.
They shocked the NFL with a 7-6 win over the San Diego Chargers and a hat tip goes out to the weather in Ohio which shackled Philip Rivers and the Bolts' attack. If the teams weren’t playing in the middle of a mud hole, the outcome would have definitely been different.
The Browns better hope for more wind, rain and slop when the rival Ravens come to town Sunday. Baltimore (5-2 SU, 2-5 ATS) had a bye week to lick its wounds after a nasty loss to Houston and tries to get back on track, with its sights set at the AFC’s top seed.
The Ravens failed to cover as 11.5-point home faves versus the Browns in Week 4 but have come away with the cash in their last four trips to Cleveland.