Ball State Cardinals vs. Buffalo Bulls Pick – MAC Championship December 18, 2020

The MAC Championship rolls through Ford Field in downtown Detroit on Friday night. This would have been a good game to attend despite it being a smaller conference. I think it’s going to be an entertaining contest. However, Covid-19 has ruined almost everything in 2020, and there won’t be a soul in attendance.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has enforced strict protocols when it comes to the virus, and that includes no fans at sporting events. The Lions had friends and family going to games for two or three weeks, but that was pulled back after the Covid-19 cases increased in the state.

The good news is that even if fans were allowed at the MAC Championship, it wouldn’t have been an electric environment with Buffalo and Ball State featured. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to get a good game at Ford Field tonight. Expect some good football for the MAC Championship.

The MAC is dealing with a shortened season, like many others with Ball State having played only six games, and Buffalo just five outings. Having said that, we have the two best teams from the MAC. Even though it hasn’t been a full sample size of games, Ball State and Buffalo deserve to be here.

You can’t say that for all conferences, most notably the Pac-12, which will have a 3-2 Oregon team playing for the Pac-12 Championship. Ball State goes into Friday night with a record of 5-1, while Buffalo sports a perfect record of 5-0. The Bulls have been the best team in the conference by a good mile, but the Cardinals come to Detroit armed with a pretty good quarterback in Drew Plitt.

If Ball State is going to spring an upset, it’s going to come on the arm of Plitt. Buffalo will look to roll over Ball State on the ground with Kevin Marks and Jaret Patterson. These two can be bowling balls on the field. Quarterback Kyle Vantrease has the easiest job in the MAC. He hands the ball off and watches his offensive line and backfield take games over. Head below for our free Ball State vs. Buffalo pick for December 18, 2020.

Ball State Cardinals vs. Buffalo Bulls MAC Championship Betting Odds:

Spread:

  • Ball St. +13 (-105)
  • Buffalo -13 (-115)
Moneyline:

  • Ball St. +440
  • Buffalo -560
Total:

  • Over 67.5 (-110)
  • Under 67.5 (-110)

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Ball State vs. Buffalo Prediction:

Buffalo is not going to be unpredictable in this game. Everyone knows what Buffalo is going to do, but stopping it is another thing altogether. Kyle Vantrease will take the snap and hand the ball off to Kevin Marks and Jaret Patterson. Marks is the No. 2 running back on the Bulls, but can still run for a long time. He’s gained 510 yards and 5 touchdowns on 7.5 yards per carry. Getting 7.5 yards a pop out of the secondary running back is a dream for any offensive coordinator.

Patterson, who appeared to have a future in the NFL, has ripped off 1,083 yards and 18 touchdowns on 8.3 yards per carry. This is through a five-game season. In just five games, Patterson has put up 1,083 yards and 18 scores. Buffalo is first in the FBS with 344.2 rushing yards gained per game. That beats triple-option teams that do nothing but run the ball. Buffalo runs the ball a ton obviously, but when Kyle Vantrease is called on, he does have a fairly serviceable arm. Vantrease has thrown for 6 touchdowns and 1 interception on 821 passing yards.

He doesn’t turn the ball over, which is the most important thing. Ball State will have to sell out to stop Marks and Patterson, so there should be opportunities for Vantrease to connect downfield. The Cardinals have allowed 284.3 yards per game through the air. Expect the backfield to pull their secondary in, while Vantrease should have chances to complete passes. Ball State hasn’t been especially great against the run either, with 147.8 rushing yards allowed per game. Buffalo are likely going to move the ball on the Cardinals. It’s hard to see how they won’t. Ball State is going to have to lean on quarterback Drew Plitt.

Plitt has passed for 13 touchdowns and 5 interceptions with 1,674 passing yards through five games. He’s been coming on nicely as the season has progressed. Plitt has been in terrific form recently, with 7 touchdowns and 1 interception against Central Michigan and Western Michigan. Note that Ball State has recorded at least 30 points in five of six games this season. They came close in the game they didn’t, with 27 points the fewest points the Cardinals have scored in an outing. Buffalo should leave Detroit with the MAC Championship, but Plitt should be able to make things interesting. I would lean with the OVER at Ford Field on Friday.

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The Bet
OVER 67.5
Kyle E / Author

Kyle is a veteran of TheSportsGeek and has spent nearly a decade providing accurate sports picks and writeups here. He has been a sports handicapper for 10+ years and started sharing his picks and thoughts in 2011 at TheSportsGeek. His expertise spans across multiple sports, including the NFL, NCAAF, MLB, NHL, and horse racing. Prior to writing for TheSportsGeek, Kyle was a fantasy football expert, who ultimately parlayed it into a successful sports betting career. You can find his picks daily only at TheSportsGeek.