NCAA Football Game Preview: Buffalo at Ball State – 11/23

Nov 23, 2021

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Game: Buffalo Bulls at Ball State Cardinals  

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET 

Odds: Bulls +6.5, Cardinals -6.5 

Total: 59.5 

It’s MAC-tion in Muncie on Tuesday night as Buffalo (4-7) visits Ball State (5-6). The Cardinals need a win in their final regular-season game in order to become bowl eligible. The Bulls will not be eligible for a bowl game regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game. That may make it difficult for head coach Maurice Linguist to get his team up to face Ball State. 

Buffalo sealed its postseason fate with losses in each of the team’s last three games. Just last week, the Bulls battled Northern Illinois but ultimately lost 33-27. The biggest problem for the Bulls has been defense. In each of those last three losses, Buffalo gave up 33, 45, and 56 points. It’s hard to win games giving up that many points.  

Ball State is in a similar position. They have lost their last two straight and three of their last four. In the last two losses, the Cardinals gave up 37 points to Central Michigan and 30 to Northern Illinois. For the season, Ball State has allowed an average of 28.6 points per game. That ranks 87th in the nation. 

The Bulls’ defense gives up even more points per game. Buffalo has allowed 33.2 points per game over the course of the season. That puts them at No. 104 in the national rankings. The fewest points allowed by the Bulls came in a 45-10 win over Akron (2-9). In their other ten games, Buffalo gave up at least 24 points.  

While the defenses aren’t very good, the offenses do have some potential. Buffalo has a slight advantage offensively. The Bulls average nearly 31 points per game (30.5) and do so with a run-heavy attack. Buffalo averages 199.8 yards on the ground per game. That ranks among the top 30 in the nation. RB Dylan McDuffie (982) is closing in on 1,000 yards for the season. 

For Ball State, veteran QB Drew Plitt leads an offense that scores 24.8 points a game. Plitt has 2,072 yards passing and 16 touchdowns for the season. Carson Steele leads the team in rushing with 784 yards.  

Neither team has been all that consistent against the spread. Ball State has failed to cover in four straight games. The Cardinals were favored in three of them. In addition to losing their last three straight, Buffalo did not cover in any of the three games. In fact, in their last eight games, Buffalo has just one ATS win. That was in the win over Akron. For the season, Buffalo is just 3-7-1 ATS. Ball State isn’t much better at 3-8 ATS. 

Ball State has won eight of the last ten games against Buffalo. That includes last season’s 38-28 victory. Seven of the last nine games in this series have seen the game total go Over the posted total. The Over is 4-2 in Buffalo’s last six games, but the total has gone Under in four of Ball State’s last five games.