What is MACtion? Three Tips to Handicap the Mid-American Conference Games

Collin Schlee Kent State Golden Flashes Georgia Bulldogs
Collin Schlee #19 of the Kent State Golden Flashes rolls out to pass against the Georgia Bulldogs. Todd Kirkland/Getty Images/AFP.

Making smart college football picks is all about finding an edge. If you take the Moneyball approach as many wiseguys do, you’ll find that edge by looking for inefficiencies in the betting marketplace – more specifically, the games on the NCAAF odds where people are making the “wrong” bets for whatever reason.

As a general rule, you’ll see those bad bets risin’ in two types of games:

  • Where the betting public heavily outweighs the sharps
  • Where the betting public is virtually non-existent

Mid-American Conference games go in the second bucket. There isn’t nearly the same audience for these low-major matchups as there is for the SEC or Big Ten – and yes, the MAC is a low major rather than mid, sitting dead last in the conference rankings by Simple Rating System at Sports Reference.

Sadly, as far as MAC betting is concerned, that means we don’t have all those public bettors blindly hammering their favorite big-name teams and creating soft NCAAF lines for us to exploit.

But we do have a knowledge vacuum of sorts. With relatively few bettors in the mix, the low-major markets can be inefficient, too. Just look at the Buffalo Bulls (5-3 SU, 6-1-1 ATS), for example. Or how about Central Michigan (2-6 SU, 2-5-1 ATS)?

If only this were all as easy as snagging the top and bottom ATS teams in the MAC standings. Here are three fundamental betting tips that will help you extract the most value from the best sportsbooks.

1. MACtion Brings the Public

Most public bettors would struggle to name any low-major conference – except for the MAC, which has carved a niche audience for itself by playing games on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the month of November. This arrangement with ESPN started back in 2000, and it still going strong today. If you’re a football fan, and it’s the middle of the week, the MAC is your huckleberry.

You pretty much have to bet whichever game they’re showing on the Worldwide Leader. This is one of those rare times in the low majors when you’ll have at least some public bettors to exploit, and they won’t even have the same casual knowledge of highly profitable teams like Buffalo that they would for, say, the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Ideally, you’ll have some models and projections to refer to when you’re deciding which bets to make, and how big those bets should be. MACtion games won’t always give you enough potential profit margin to attack with a proper-size wager, but this is one of the richer hunting grounds in sports betting.

2. Some MACs Are Bigger Than Others

Even in a conference as low-profile as the MAC, there’s a considerable gap between the biggest and the smallest programs. The aforementioned Bulls represent the relatively large city of Buffalo, and they have the highest enrolment in the MAC, pulling in twice as many students as Akron (1-8 SU, 4-5 ATS).

Then you have the Ohio Bobcats (5-3 SU and ATS), representing the greater Columbus region – and the entire state. That’s their name. Ohio has the third-largest student-base in the MAC, and the largest endowment as well, with Buffalo a close second.

We’re not saying all that endowment money (or any of it) is being spent on football, but the Bulls and Bobcats happen to be the only two teams in the MAC with profitable ATS records heading into Week 10. And Central Michigan happens to be one of the smaller schools in the MAC. Size matters.

3. Bet the Under (Maybe)

Because most of these schools are so tiny, it’s hard for them to attract blue-chip recruits at quarterback. You’ll get a Ben Roethlisberger (Miami-Ohio) every once in a blue moon, a handful of guys like Charlie Frye (Akron), and countless tomato cans whose names will soon be lost to the sands of time.

This means your MAC games are going to be sloppy affairs for the most part – and that’s before you account for the weather, which can get pretty nasty in the Great Lakes region starting right about now.

Use your research skills to target the teams who are most likely to cash in the Under. The aforementioned Miami-Ohio RedHawks have the Under at 8-1 thus far; their offense ranks No. 120 out of the 131 FBS teams on the F+ Ratings at Football Outsiders, while Miami’s defense ranks a respectable (for the MAC) No. 78. Make it MAC tonight, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.

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