A crossover tilt of Mid-American Conference foes dots the week 12 college football landscape in the Hoosier State. The Buffalo Bulls are on the road as they take on the Ball State Cardinal Thursday night. Buffalo snapped a four game slide with a 38-28 home win over Bowling Green last Tuesday. Ball State lost their seventh in a row with a 63-17 clobbering on the road against Northern Illinois. The Cardinals own a 7-1 edge in the all-time series and have won three straight meetings: that includes a 31-21 road win in the last matchup on October 15, 2016.
Buffalo Bulls Seek Back to Back Wins
Buffalo picked up a home win in conference play last week, which was a nice change of pace. The Bulls, who are 2-4 in the MAC, lost two conference games by a single point and a third in that epic 71-68 seven overtime loss to Western Michigan. Buffalo jumped to a 21-7 lead after the opening quarter against Bowling Green and hung on to get the win. The Bulls rolled up a 582-394 advantage in total offense, picked up 26 first downs while allowing 21 and had a 32:48 to 27:12 edge in time of possession. Buffalo forced three turnovers while committing two in the game and came up with the victory.
The Bulls are tied for 24th in the FBS in passing offense with 284.6 yards per game and 90th in rushing as they average 142.2 yards per contest on the ground. Buffalo is tied for 75th in scoring offense with 27.3 points per contest and tied for 53rd in scoring defense as they allow 25 points a game. Tyree Jackson is 108 of 179 for 1,452 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions while adding 220 yards plus four scores on the ground. Drew Anderson is 66 of 106 for 1,039 yards with 10 touchdowns against one pick plus 92 rushing yards and a score. Kyle Vantrease is 25 of 57 for 355 yards with two touchdowns and two picks. Emmanuel Reed is the leading ground gainer with 163 carries for 654 yards and eight scores. Theo Anderson contributes 80 carries for 322 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Anthony Johnson has reeled in a team leading 63 balls for 1,048 yards and eight scores. K.J. Osborn (28 grabs, 402 yards, 4 TD) and Kamathi Holsey (27 receptions, 471 yards, TD) are good secondary options. Adam Mitcheson is 29 of 31 on extra points but just 12 of 20 on field goals with a long of 42.
Ball State Cardinals Look for First Conference Win
Ball State was steamrolled on the road by Northern Illinois and lost their seventh straight game. The Cardinals are in the basement of the MAC’s West Division with a 0-6 mark: they are the only team in the conference without a conference win. Sadly, Ball State has lost all six conference games by at least 28: five of those losses came by at least 41 points. The Cardinals were down 21-7 after one quarter, 35-7 at the half, and the rout was on. Ball State lost the total yardage battle 433-245 and the first down battle 20-16 despite holding a 36:01 to 23:59 advantage in time of possession.
The Cardinals are 95th in the FBS in passing offense as they average 188.5 yards per game and 91st in rushing with 140.9 yards per contest. Ball State is 121st in scoring offense as they put up 18.4 points per contest and 127th in scoring defense as they allow 42 points per game. Riley Neal is 67 of 99 passing for 659 yards with six touchdowns against three interceptions while rushing for 67 yards. Jack Milas is 89 of 164 for 804 yards with no touchdowns and seven interceptions while Zack Blair is nine of 15 for 67 yards. Drew Plitt is 35 of 69 for 355 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Caleb Huntley leads the Cardinals with 159 carries for 703 yards plus three scores. Malik Dunner (59 carries, 317 yards, six TD) and James Gilbert (48 carries, 207 yards, three TD) are also in the mix. Justin Hall leads the team with 65 receptions for 653 yards and two scores while Riley Miller (26 grabs, 273 yards, TD) is a distant second. Morgan Hagee is 22 of 23 on extra points and eight of 14 on field goals with a long of 47.
- Bulls are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games following an ATS win
- Bulls are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games overall
- Bulls are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games on fieldturf
- Cardinals are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 games overall
- Cardinals are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games after scoring less than 20 points in their previous game
- Cardinals are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 games on fieldturf
Buffalo is no great team despite their impressive passing statistics. The fact remains that Ball State is a train wreck that hasn’t had a good game since September. The Cardinals have been destroyed in conference play week in and week out: when your closest game is a four touchdown loss, there’s something wrong there. Buffalo may not get to the 40 point margin that five MAC teams have hung on Ball State, but they win this one handily to get their fifth win of the year.
Pick: Buffalo Bulls -17.5
It’s worth repeating how atrocious Ball State has been in conference play this season. The Cardinals have been outscored by an aggregate of 319-63 in their six losses. In five of those games, they’ve been beaten by a minimum of 41 points and they haven’t scored more than 17 points in any game this year. Buffalo has been a good passing team this season and the Bulls were part of the highest scoring game in college football history with their 71-68, seven-overtime loss to Western Michigan. We know the Bulls can score points, and that’s bad news for Ball State since they love giving them up.
The over is 5-1 in the Bulls’ last 6 games after allowing more than 280 yards passing in their previous game. Ball State has seen the over go 4-0 in their last 4 games overall, 4-0 in their last 4 games on fieldturf, 4-0 in their last 4 games after a straight up loss, 4-0 in their last 4 games after an ATS loss, 4-0 in their last 4 games after scoring less than 20 points in their last game and 4-0 in their last 4 games in conference play. Given Ball State’s dismal defense, this one goes over as well.