MAC football odds, best bets: Sizing up college football's most unpredictable conference

·4 min read

Other conference betting previews: AAC, Conference USA

The parity in the MAC has been pretty wild in recent years. Out of the conference’s 12 teams, nine have appeared in the title game at least once in the past five seasons (only Kent State, Eastern Michigan and Bowling Green have not).

The MAC is more wide open than any other FBS conference, so trying to handicap it is a tall task. But if you project things correctly, there is a chance for a big payout.

(All odds via BetMGM.)

MAC championship odds

  • Toledo: +220

  • Ball State: +425

  • Buffalo: +500

  • Ohio: +500

  • Western Michigan: +700

  • Kent State: +1200

  • Central Michigan: +1400

  • Miami Ohio: +2000

  • Eastern Michigan: +4000

  • Northern Illinois: +25000

  • Akron: +25000

  • Bowling Green: +25000

Best bet: Toledo (+220)

Toledo has been a stable program under Jason Candle. Sure, the Rockets haven’t won recently at the same level as they did early in Candle’s tenure, but they haven’t been volatile like so many of their fellow MAC members. In 2020, Toledo went 4-2 and its two losses came by a combined six points. The Rockets have a few tough conference road games this year (most notably at Ball State), but I think they’re the most talented team in the MAC. They’ve emerged as the favorite for a reason, and +220 is still good value.

Team to avoid: Buffalo (+500)

The late head coach opening at Kansas brought turmoil to Buffalo. KU hired Lance Leipold, who coached Buffalo to two MAC East titles and three straight bowl games. From there, Buffalo hired Michigan assistant Maurice Linguist and he brought in an entirely new staff. Buffalo went 6-1 and won the MAC East last year, but losing Leipold so late into the offseason gives me pause — especially considering how many players decided to transfer. There’s still talent on this roster, but I can’t bet on Buffalo with so much change in the program in such a short time span.

Sleeper: Kent State (+1200)

You’ll likely be hearing the name Sean Lewis during the next coaching carousel. In the five seasons before Lewis was hired, Kent State averaged 3.2 wins per year. In just his second year, Lewis coached the Golden Flashes to seven wins, including the program’s first-ever bowl victory. Lewis has revitalized Kent State with an up-tempo offense with QB Dustin Crum leading the way. Crum has NFL talent and should be able to tear up MAC defenses. If the Kent State defense can show some improvement, this team has a chance to win the MAC for the first time.

Kent State Golden Flashes quarterback Dustin Crum (7) runs with the ball during an NCAA football game against the Eastern Michigan Eagles on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Kent, Ohio. (AP Photo/Kirk Irwin)
Kent State Golden Flashes quarterback Dustin Crum (7) runs with the ball during an NCAA football game against the Eastern Michigan Eagles on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Kent, Ohio. (AP Photo/Kirk Irwin)

MAC preseason win totals

  • Toledo: 8.5

  • Ball State: 7.5

  • Buffalo: 7.5 

  • Ohio: 6.5

  • Central Michigan: 6.5

  • Eastern Michigan: 6.5

  • Western Michigan: 6

  • Kent State: 5.5

  • Miami Ohio: 5.5

  • Northern Illinois: 4

  • Akron: 2

  • Bowling Green: 1.5

MAC win total best bets

Toledo over 8.5 (-115)

There’s only one game (at Notre Dame) on Toledo’s schedule that I look at as a surefire loss. The Rockets should be favored in their other non-conference games (Norfolk State, Colorado State and at UMass) and the draw from the MAC East includes Akron and Bowling Green, the two worst teams in the conference. There are a few difficult road division games, but I like Toledo to get to 9-3.

Northern Illinois under 4 (+100)

NIU has been pretty bad under Thomas Hammock. The Huskies went 0-6 in last year’s abbreviated MAC season and weren’t even competitive at times. Looking at the 2021 schedule, it’s hard to find four wins. NIU has non-conference games against Georgia Tech, Wyoming and Michigan and will likely be an underdog against all of its divisional opponents. NIU added ex-Michigan State QB Rocky Lombardi as a transfer, but I still like the under here.

Northern Illinois head coach Thomas Hammock calls out to his players in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Vanderbilt Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt won 24-18. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Northern Illinois head coach Thomas Hammock calls out to his players in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Vanderbilt Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt won 24-18. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

More from Yahoo Sports:

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting