Monster MAC Football Matchup

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by Sportsbook Advisor - 11/19/2008 12:28 PM Share

By: Doug Upstone - StatFox
Ball State took a closer step to completing a perfect season, with the biggest test to date coming this week. For the first time ever, the Muncie, IN University is 10-0 (6-2-1 ATS) matching the number of wins they had in 1978 (10-1). Their only previous perfect season came in 1949, when they played eight games. Quarterback Nate Davis is a special performer, but the addition of running back MiQuale Lewis has added a real punch to offensive balance. When Davis' favorite target Dante Love went down, there was wonderment if the passing game would still be as potent. Louis Johnson upped his game and he and Davis clicked immediately.

Immediately after the Cardinals won 31-16 at Miami last Tuesday, they could finally turn their attention to a showdown at Central Michigan for a game that could determine the Mid-American Conference West champion. "Every week we've focused on the task at hand, which was the next team, but underneath it all Central Michigan has been lurking," Cardinals linebacker Bryant Haines said. The Cardinals will come into this contest 12-6 ATS when the line is single digits in MAC matchups.

To Ball State's credit, they've kept themselves focused on that "next game" mentality despite the distractions that come with being unbeaten this late in the season. The Cardinals have been nationally ranked for more than a month, and they are among the chief contenders from non-BCS conferences for a bid to a BCS bowl game.

Ball State is in the midst of one of the most amazing streaks in all of college football. The Cardinals haven't committed a penalty in three straight games, and they lead the nation in fewest penalties this year with 26. The Cardinals have committed three penalties or fewer six times. This type of attention to detail helps explain 14-4 ATS record in road games over the last three seasons.

Central Michigan's disappearing act almost cost them, as they literally came out of a fog to set this outstanding matchup. The Chippewas had built a 30-6 lead as the fog rolled into Huskies Stadium at Northern Illinois. Central Michigan (8-2, 6-3 ATS) must have been mesmerized by the unusual atmosphere and stopped playing. NIU came all the way back and almost had game winning touchdown in regulation. CMU survived with interception and field goal in win in overtime 33-30.

"We made some mistakes that will get corrected, but with all the adversity we had in the second half, no one stopped believing," said Central Michigan coach Butch Jones. "Every game has been like this, but it shapes you, it molds you. Sometimes a win like this is better than winning big because our kids have been tested." Central Michigan is 10-1 ATS off a road win over the last three seasons.

The Chippewas have won six straight (4-2 ATS) and their field general is coming off his best game of the season. Quarterback Dan LeFevour proved he is an effective passer and agile runner, throwing for 189 yards and two scores while adding a season-high 121 rushing yards and two TDs. The Chippewas are 10-2 against the spread at Kelly/Shorts Stadium since LeFevour hit the field in first game in 2006.

Sportsbook.com has Ball State as 6.5-point road favorite with a total of 55. In theory, the oddsmakers number appear off, since the Cardinals have lost four in a row to Central Michigan, including last year, the most humiliating, falling 58-38 at home as 13-point favorites. However, Davis and Ball State average 266.8 yards passing, at 9.5 per attempt (4th in the country) and will be matched against the MAC's worst pass defense in the Chippewas, who rank 114th in the nation, surrendering 273.7 yards per outing. Throw that in the blender with the Cardinals a spectacular 18-3 ATS on the road since 2005, with a 14-7 straight up record and line makes more sense.

Central Michigan will give it their best shot as the two-time defending conference champions and owns a 13-4-1 ATS mark at home the last four years. The added edge of being listed as a home underdog against an unbeaten club, you can't help but think this is a very good squad who returns to Mt. Pleasant after sweeping three consecutive road games.

ESPN2 has this MAC smackdown showdown starting at 7 Eastern.


StatFox Forecaster - Ball State covers
StatFox Power Line - Ball State by 7
StatFox Outplay Factor - Ball State by 13


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