2022 College Football Win Total Projections, Odds & Picks: MAC

Dequan Finn

In the article below, college football expert Thor Nystrom projects the spread for every game using his ATL system (Adjusted Thor Spread). These spreads are from the perspective of the team in question — i.e., Army is a +2.5 underdog at Coastal Carolina and a -5 favorite hosting UTSA.

Here are his total win projections, odds, and picks for the MAC.

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Toledo Rockets
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 51 out of 131

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Win odds

Long Island
Toledo
Sat, Sept 3
-33
1

UMass
Toledo
Sat, Sept 10
-29.5
1

Toledo
Ohio State
Sat, Sep 17
30.5
0

Toledo
San Diego State
Sat, Sep 24
-6
0.707

Central Michigan
Toledo
Sat, Oct 1
-12
0.885

Toledo
Northern Illinois
Sat, Oct 8
-8.5
0.802

Kent State
Toledo
Sat, Oct 15
-20.5
1

Toledo
Buffalo
Sat, Oct 22
-11
0.871

Toledo
Eastern Michigan
Sat, Oct 29
-11
0.871

Ball State
Toledo
Tue, Nov 8
-23.5
1

Bowling Green
Toledo
Tue, Nov 15
-21
1

Toledo
Western Michigan
Fri, Nov 25
-12
0.885

 

In the two seasons after HC Jason Candle took over for Matt Campbell, the Rockets went 9-4 and 11-3. But since 2018, Toledo has regressed to 7-6, 6-6, 4-2 (COVID-shortened 2020), and 7-6. This is the year you’re going to get a referendum on Candle. And spoiler alert: I think the Rockets are about to turn back the clock to their double-digit win heyday.

The offense loses star RB Bryant Koback (UDFA Vikings) but returns most everyone else, seven starters in all. That includes sophomore dual-threat QB Dequan Finn, who took over the starting gig in Week 7 and posted an 18/2 TD/INT ratio. RB Peny Boone, a former hyped recruit for Maryland, is the leader in the clubhouse for Koback’s old bell-cow role. The defense is going to be one of the G5’s best. Eight starters return from a unit that allowed just 21.8 PPG last season, and former Ohio State top-200 overall recruit LB Dallas Gant joins the party.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 10
Las Vegas win total: 7.5
Thor’s bet: OVER

Not only is this set up to be Candle’s best team since 2016-2017, but the schedule sets up nicely. Toledo is going to lose at Ohio State. But ATL favors the Rockets by at least 6.5-points in the other 11 games! There’s no other way to put this: Toledo’s win total is short. My numbers have Toledo as double-digit favorites in nine games. This number gives the Rockets leeway to lose to Ohio State, lose to both teams ATL has Toledo as single-digit favorites over, and lose one of the games ATL sees it as a double-digit favorite in and still go OVER. One of my favorite bets on the entire board this summer.

Akron Zips
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 125 out of 131

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Win odds

St. Francis (PA)
Akron
Thu, Sep 1
-9.5
0.811

Akron
Michigan State
Sat, Sep 10
34
0

Akron
Tennessee
Sat, Sep 17
32
0

Akron
Liberty
Sat, Sep 24
19
0

Bowling Green
Akron
Sat, Oct 1
2.5
0.455

Akron
Ohio
Sat, Oct 8
5.5
0.311

Central Michigan
Akron
Sat, Oct 15
11.5
0.118

Akron
Kent State
Sat, Oct 22
6
0.294

Miami (OH)
Akron
Sat, Oct 29
12.5
0.113

Eastern Michigan
Akron
Tue, Nov 8
8.5
0.198

Akron
Buffalo
Sat, Nov 19
10.5
0.14

Akron
Northern Illinois
Sat, Nov 26
13.5
0.1

 

Akron, which hasn’t appeared in a bowl game since 2005, hired former Penn State and Oregon OC (and Mississippi State HC) Joe Moorhead as HC. JoeMo actually got his FBS start at Akron, serving as a Zips assistant for five seasons before returning to his alma mater Fordham as HC. Moorhead is an offensive genius who revolutionized his take on the RPO offense while working with Saquon Barkley as the Nittany Lions’ OC.

He’s got a lot to work with on that side of the ball, with 6’6 dual-threat DJ Irons at QB and multi-faceted RB Jonzell Norrils. Eight starters return, which doesn’t include Pitt WR Shocky Jaques-Louis, who will be peppered with targets this fall. Akron is going to improve on its No. 119 scoring offense from last fall. The big question for this team will be its defense, which ranked No. 125 in scoring last year. Eight starters also return on that side – and JoeMo likewise added transfers to augment the unit – but there’s a long road ahead even to reach mediocrity.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 2.5
Las Vegas win total: 2.5
Thor’s bet: Pass

My adjusted number falls smack-dab on the Vegas number. After the opener against an FCS team, Akron has three brutal road games in a row – which will likely lead to a 1-3 start. My numbers project Akron as underdogs in all eight MAC games – but a single-digit underdog in half of them. This one could go either way.

Ball State Cardinals
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 122 out of 131

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Win odds

Ball State
Tennessee
Thu, Sep 1
31
0

Western Michigan
Ball State
Sat, Sep 10
4.5
0.327

Murray State
Ball State
Sat, Sep 17
-11
0.871

Ball State
Georgia Southern
Sat, Sep 24
7
0.248

Northern Illinois
Ball State
Sat, Oct 1
8.5
0.198

Ball State
Central Michigan
Sat, Oct 8
13.5
0.1

UConn
Ball State
Sat, Oct 15
-5.5
0.69

Eastern Michigan
Ball State
Sat, Oct 22
7
0.248

Ball State
Kent State
Tue, Nov 1
4.5
0.327

Ball State
Toledo
Tue, Nov 8
23.5
0

Ohio
Ball State
Tue, Nov 15
0
0.5

Miami (OH)
Ball State
Tue, Nov 22
11
0.129

 

Ball State entered last season as MAC preseason favorites and ended it just 6-7 after an offense that returned 10 starters managed just 24.1 PPG. The Cardinals must replace their starting quarterback and all-time leading receiver, but this year’s offense has a good shot of besting the disappointing output of last season. RB Carson Steele is a keeper, the WR corps is still a strength with Yo’Heinz Tyler and Jayshon Jackson back, and new starting QB John Paddock flashed arm talent in the spring.

The defense has allowed less than 30 PPG for two straight years, but that was with 10 and seven starters returning, respectively. This year’s crew loses seven starters and five of the top six tacklers. Offensive improvement is needed, if only for the mere fact that defensive regression is likely coming.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 3.6
Las Vegas win total: 5.5
Thor’s bet: UNDER

My numbers have Ball State as double-digit favorites in one game and double-digit underdogs in four. If the Cardinals go 1-4 in those games, they’d have to 5-2 in the seven games ATL projects with single-digit spreads to go over. The problem with that is ATL only favors Ball State in one of those games, with one pick ’em. The Cards would have to significantly outperform my numbers to go over. We’re taking the under.

Bowling Green Falcons
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 120 out of 131

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Win odds

Bowling Green
UCLA
Sat, Sep 3
25
0

EKU
Bowling Green
Sat, Sep 10
-13.5
0.9

Marshall
Bowling Green
Sat, Sep 17
15.5
0.037

Bowling Green
Mississippi State
Sat, Sep 24
27
0

Bowling Green
Akron
Sat, Oct 1
-2.5
0.545

Buffalo
Bowling Green
Sat, Oct 8
2
0.465

Miami (OH)
Bowling Green
Sat, Oct 15
8.5
0.198

Bowling Green
Central Michigan
Sat, Oct 22
11
0.129

Western Michigan
Bowling Green
Wed, Nov 2
2
0.465

Kent State
Bowling Green
Wed, Nov 9
-1
0.513

Bowling Green
Toledo
Tue, Nov 15
21
0

Bowling Green
Ohio
Tue, Nov 22
1.5
0.475

 

During last season’s 4-8 campaign, Bowling Green upset Minnesota on the road and had three one-loss possessions. That team had only 11 returning starters. This year’s squad has 18 returning — nine on each side of the ball. To plug holes of the departed, HC Scott Loeffler brought in transfers, such as former Cincinnati and Memphis pivot Jakari Robinson to play C. Depth is also much improved. This is setting up to be the most-talented Falcons squad since the Dino Babers days (4-8 is the high-water mark since then).

QB Matt McDonald is an experienced starter with arm-strength limitations who makes good decisions. The RB and WR rooms are very deep. On defense, all-seven starters in the front-seven return, and the defensive line, in particular, is a strength. The secondary must replace two starters, but pass defense was the team’s biggest strength last fall (No. 9).

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 3.7
Las Vegas win total: 3.5
Thor’s bet: Pass

My numbers only favor Bowling Green in three games, partly due to a difficult schedule that includes road games at UCLA, Mississippi State, and Toledo. But my numbers also have Bowling Green as underdogs of two points or less in three games, offering the opportunity for a run at bowl eligibility. I lean over, and I do like this Bowling Green team, but because the margins are so close, I will pass on a bet.

Buffalo Bulls
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 108 out of 131

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Win odds

Buffalo
Maryland
Sat, Sep 3
17
0

Holy Cross
Buffalo
Sat, Sep 10
-19
1

Buffalo
Coastal Carolina
Sat, Sep 17
12
0.116

Buffalo
Eastern Michigan
Sat, Sep 24
4
0.342

Miami (OH)
Buffalo
Sat, Oct 1
3
0.406

Buffalo
Bowling Green
Sat, Oct 8
-2
0.535

Buffalo
UMass
Sat, Oct 15
-9.5
0.811

Toledo
Buffalo
Sat, Oct 22
11
0.129

Buffalo
Ohio
Tue, Nov 1
-1.5
0.525

Buffalo
Central Michigan
Wed, Nov 9
8
0.209

Akron
Buffalo
Sat, Nov 19
-10.5
0.86

Kent State
Buffalo
Sat, Nov 26
-6.5
0.724

 

Buffalo’s defense should be improved after it allowed a disappointing 29.9 PPG in 2021. Six starters are back, and the coaching staff aggressively mined the transfer portal for reinforcements, including former Texas A&M and Florida DB Elijah Blades. First-team All-MAC LB James Patterson, who posted 116 tackles last year, is the group’s leader.

The defense needs to improve because the offense is an enormous question mark. Only three starters return, Buffalo needs to break in a new starting quarterback and running back, and the run-first team only has one returning starter along the offensive line. The hope is that two-time All-MAC returner Ron Cook will fill the RB hole and that former Arizona WR Boobie Curry will put a jolt into the receiving corps. If multiple things don’t break right for Buffalo on offense, they could struggle to score points in 2022.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 5.8
Las Vegas win total: 5.5
Thor’s bet: Pass

The biggest thing this Buffalo team has going for it is its schedule, ranked No. 129 by Phil Steele. The non-con includes two cream puffs at home and Maryland as the only P5 foe, and Buffalo avoids Northern Illinois and Western Michigan in MAC play. ATL checks in close to the Vegas number with 5.8 projected wins. I will pass because of open questions about several key positions on the roster.

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Central Michigan Chippewas
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 87 out of 131

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Central Michigan
Oklahoma State
Thur, Sep 1
18
0

South Alabama
Central Michigan
Sat, Sep 10
-7.5
0.781

Bucknell
Central Michigan
Sat, Sep 17
-23
1

Central Michigan
Penn State
Sat, Sep 24
22.5
0

Central Michigan
Toledo
Sat, Oct 1
12
0.116

Ball State
Central Michigan
Sat, Oct 8
-13.5
0.9

Central Michigan
Akron
Sat, Oct 15
-12
0.885

Bowling Green
Central Michigan
Sat, Oct 22
-12.5
0.887

Central Michigan
Northern Illinois
Wed, Nov 2
1
0.488

Buffalo
Central Michigan
Wed, Nov 9
-7
0.752

Western Michigan
Central Michigan
Wed, Nov 16
-7.5
0.781

Central Michigan
Eastern Michigan
Fri, Nov 25
-2
0.535

 

The Chips won seven-of-eight to finish 9-4 last season after a 2-3 start. They did so behind a top-25 total offense and a top-20 run defense that finished No. 6 in havoc rate. Seven starters return on offense. But CMU must replace OTs Bernard Raimann and Luke Goedeke, who were both picked in the top-76 in April, and dynamic WR Kalil Pimpleton (a UDFA who will at the very least be on a practice squad this fall). The other three OL return, as does MAC OPoY RB Lew Nichols, who rushed for 1,848 yards last year. So long as the offensive line gels, this offense will be potent.

The defense didn’t lose any NFL Draft picks, but they lost a lot of veteran worker-bee starters. CMU returns only four starters on that side of the ball. The linebacking corps and secondary were hit particularly hard with graduations – both position groups will rely heavily on inexperienced players this fall. The good news is along the defensive line, which should be one of the most active fronts in the MAC.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 7.1
Las Vegas win total: 7.5
Thor’s bet: Pass

My numbers favor CMU in eight games, but that comes with a big caveat. Of CMU’s 12 games, five have spreads of 7.5-points or lower. Basically, CMU has two sure-losses (Oklahoma State and Penn State), one likely loss (Toledo), four very-likely wins (Bucknell, Ball State, Bowling Green, and Akron), and five coin-flip games. Certain position groups on this team are very good. Still, because the quality of the offensive line, linebacking corps, and secondary are so up in the air, there’s too much uncertainty to bet this one.

Eastern Michigan Eagles
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 98 out of 131

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Eastern Kentucky
Eastern Michigan
Fri, Sep 2
-19
1

Eastern Michigan
Louisiana
Sat, Sep 10
8.5
0.198

Eastern Michigan
Arizona State
Sat, Sep 17
18
0

Buffalo
Eastern Michigan
Sat, Sep 24
-4
0.658

UMass
Eastern Michigan
Sat, Oct 1
-15.5
0.963

Eastern Michigan
Western Michigan
Sat, Oct 8
0
0.5

Northern Illinois
Eastern Michigan
Sat, Oct 15
0
0.5

Eastern Michigan
Ball State
Sat, Oct 22
-8.5
0.802

Toledo
Eastern Michigan
Sat, Oct 29
11
0.129

Eastern Michigan
Akron
Tue, Nov 8
-8.5
0.802

Eastern Michigan
Kent State
Wed, Nov 16
-3.5
0.643

Central Michigan
Eastern Michigan
Fri, Nov 25
2
0.465

 

The Eagles have 14 starters returning from last year’s 7-6 team, including eight on offense. Last year’s rushing offense was inconsistent (No. 112 nationally in rushing YPG), but the passing attack was stellar. EMU finished No. 34 in passing YPG and No. 27 in passing efficiency. EMU’s staff was stunned when starting QB Ben Bryant, who threw for 3,124 yards last year, transferred back to Cincinnati, the school he’d previously fled, to escape Desmond Ridder’s shadow.

EMU picked up the pieces by importing QB Taylor Powell, a former four-star Mizzou signee who started five games at Troy last year. Powell’s always had the tools but has battled consistency issues. If he can find his footing in that regard, he could throw for a ton of yards next year with all-three starting receivers returning from what was already one of the G5’s best WR corps. That development would be huge because EMU finished No. 107 in total defense last year and must replace five starters – that unit is likely to regress a little.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 6.7
Las Vegas win total: 6.5
Thor’s bet: Pass

ATL installs EMU as a double-digit favorite in two games, a double-digit underdog in two more, and projects single-digit spreads in the other eight games. Which tells you our band of outcomes here is anywhere from 2-10 to 10-2. ATL’s projection is right down the middle, at 6.6, basically identical to the Vegas number of 6.5. The number is spot-on, so we must pass.

Kent State Golden Flashes
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 119 out of 131

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Kent State
Washington
Sat, Sep 3
23
0

Kent State
Oklahoma
Sat, Sep 10
33
0

Long Island
Kent State
Sat, Sep 17
-14.5
0.949

Kent State
Georgia
Sat, Sep 24
43
0

Ohio
Kent State
Sat, Oct 1
-4
0.658

Kent State
Miami (OH)
Sat, Oct 8
11.5
0.118

Kent State
Toledo
Sat, Oct 15
20.5
0

Akron
Kent State
Sat, Oct 22
-6
0.707

Ball State
Kent State
Tue, Nov 1
-5
0.681

Kent State
Bowling Green
Wed, Nov 9
1
0.488

Eastern Michigan
Kent State
Wed, Nov 16
3.5
0.357

Kent State
Buffalo
Sat, Nov 26
6.5
0.277

 

Where you come down on Kent State will primarily come down to how much you believe in HC Sean Lewis and DC Jeremiah Johnson, who was hired after a superb nine-year run at Northern Iowa. Only 12 starters return, but the projected starting lineup includes four Big 10 transfers and two ACC transfers. Those transfers are being counted on to plug gaping holes in the offensive line and the secondary, in particular.

The offense loses prolific QB Dustin Crum. But Lewis, who used to run Dino Babers’ offenses, is something of a quarterback whisperer. The hope is that dual-threat QB Collin Schlee will be the newest of his signal-callers that put up video game stats – if not, the offense will drop off. The scoring defense ranked No. 121 last year, and the total defense ranked No. 124 (partly because the offense plays so fast). The group’s strength is in the secondary, which should suit Johnson’s new 3-3-5 defense just fine. Any losses from last year’s No. 4 total offense would need to be made back by gains on defense.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 4.2
Las Vegas win total: 5
Thor’s bet: Pass

The Golden Flashes face a hard one-two punch to begin the season: An inexperienced roster confronting a brutal September slate that includes Washington, Oklahoma, and Georgia (along with an FCS team). Kent State is favored by ATL in its MAC opener but finds itself as a projected double-digit underdog in the two games after that. Likely to start 1-6 or 2-5, Kent State would theoretically need to close out the season 4-1 or 5-0 to go over. My system favors KSU in two of those games, has them as an underdog in two others and calls for a pick ’em in the sixth. The band of outcomes here is anywhere between 3-9 and 8-4. I’m a Lewis believer, so I will pass, even though my numbers lean for a bet on the under.

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Northern Illinois Huskies
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 92 out of 131

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Eastern Illinois
Northern Illinois
Thur, Sep 1
-21.5
1

Northern Illinois
Tulsa
Sat, Sep 10
2
0.465

Vanderbilt
Northern Illinois
Sat, Sep 17
-9
0.807

Northern Illinois
Kentucky
Sat, Sep 24
21
0

Northern Illinois
Ball State
Sat, Oct 1
-8.5
0.802

Toledo
Northern Illinois
Sat, Oct 8
8
0.209

Northern Illinois
Eastern Michigan
Sat, Oct 15
0
0.5

Northern Illinois
Ohio
Sat, Oct 22
-6
0.707

Central Michigan
Northern Illinois
Wed, Nov 2
-1
0.513

Northern Illinois
Western Michigan
Wed, Nov 9
-1.5
0.525

Miami (OH)
Northern Illinois
Wed, Nov 16
0
0.5

Akron
Northern Illinois
Sat, Nov 26
-13.5
0.9

 

NIU HC Thomas Hammock entered last season with one of the nation’s youngest and least-experienced rosters (Phil Steele’s No. 126 in experience), coming off a winless COVID-shorted 2020 season. I was among the media that believed the Huskies would stink. Instead, following a 1-2 start, NIU ripped off a 7-2 run to finish the regular season and then whipped Kent State in the MAC title game before losing 47-41 to Coastal Carolina in the Cure Bowl. This year, courtesy of 18 returning starters, NIU catapults from Phil Steele’s No. 126 most-experienced roster to No. 12!

The two-biggest losses from last year’s team are MAC Freshman of the Year RB Jay Ducker and versatile H-Back Clint Ratkovich. That pair helped improve a ghastly run offense (2020’s rushing YPG was the lowest in the program since 1998) into a machine (ranked No. 4 in rushing YPG in 2021). Luckily, RB Harrison Waylee is back – he averaged 5.7 YPC to Ducker’s 5.4, albeit in a little less than half the carries. The running game may fall off a little, but the passing offense (No. 105 last year) should be better with standouts back at QB (Rocky Lombardi) and WR (Trayvon Rudolph). The defense, which ranked No. 112 last year, is also better with nine returning starters.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 6.9
Las Vegas win total: 6.5
Thor’s bet: Pass

NIU is a fascinating thought experiment. They return 18 starters from a team that seemed to have rabbit’s feet and four-leaf clovers stuffed in pads during last year’s charmed 9-5 campaign. After six-of-eight regular season games last year were won by single-digits, many in come-from-behind fashion, the obvious question becomes: Will the battle-tested, experienced 2022 roster make up for a regression-to-the-mean of luck NIU enjoyed in 2021? ATL sets single-digit lines in nine of NIU’s 12 games this fall – if team quality doesn’t exceed last year’s, NIU could plummet back to earth. But if NIU is significantly improved, the Huskies could also challenge for double-digit wins. It feels like the books are begging for over bets – they’re not getting one here. This one’s too close to call.

Miami (OH) Redhawks
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 82 out of 131

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Miami (OH)
Kentucky
Sat, Sep 3
18.5
0

Robert Morris
Miami (OH)
Sat, Sep 10
-24
1

Cincinnati
Miami (OH)
Sat, Sep 17
14.5
0.051

Miami (OH)
Northwestern
Sat, Sep 24
4
0.342

Miami (OH)
Buffalo
Sat, Oct 1
-3
0.594

Kent State
Miami (OH)
Sat, Oct 8
-11.5
0.882

Miami (OH)
Bowling Green
Sat, Oct 15
-8.5
0.802

Western Michigan
Miami (OH)
Sat, Oct 22
-8.5
0.802

Miami (OH)
Akron
Sat, Oct 29
-12.5
0.887

Ohio
Miami (OH)
Tue, Nov 8
-13.5
0.9

Miami (OH)
Northern Illinois
Wed, Nov 16
0
0.5

Ball State
Miami (OH)
Tue, Nov 22
-14.5
0.949

 

The offense returns nine starters, including QB Brett Gabbert, who has thrown 5,443 yards over two-plus years as a starter. The team must replace WR1 Jack Sorenson, who posted a jumbo 76-1406-10 receiving line last season. But WR Mac Hippenhammer, who started at Penn State, should fill those shoes neatly. The offensive line should be one of the MAC’s best and the top-four RB return.

The good news on defense is that LB Ryan McWood, who posted 99 tackles in 2019, is back after suffering a season-ending injury in Week 1 last season. The bad news is seven starters depart, including most of the unit’s best players (including R5 pick Dominique Robinson). The Redhawks will likely take a step backward on defense.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 7.7
Las Vegas win total: 6.5
Thor’s bet: OVER

The Redhawks should start 1-2 but are only installed by ATL as underdogs in one-of-nine games to close the regular season. ATL pegs the Redhawks as double-digit favorites in five games (and six total). If Miami takes care of business against the underbelly of their schedule, they’d only need to win one-of-three winnable road games – Northwestern, Buffalo, or NIU – to go over. That’s the outcome we expect.

Ohio Bobcats
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 120 out of 131

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Florida Atlantic
Ohio
Sat, Sep 3
2.5
0.455

Ohio
Penn State
Sat, Sep 10
32.5
0

Ohio
Iowa State
Sat, Sep 17
24.5
0

Fordham
Ohio
Sat, Sep 24
-13.5
0.9

Ohio
Kent State
Sat, Oct 1
3.5
0.357

Akron
Ohio
Sat, Oct 8
-5.5
0.69

Ohio
Western Michigan
Sat, Oct 15
7
0.248

Northern Illinois
Ohio
Sat, Oct 22
5.5
0.311

Buffalo
Ohio
Tue, Nov 1
1.5
0.475

Ohio
Miami (OH)
Tue, Nov 8
13
0.107

Ohio
Ball State
Tue, Nov 15
0
0.5

Bowling Green
Ohio
Tue, Nov 22
-1.5
0.525

 

It was a trying 2021 season, which began with Frank Solich’s health-related retirement last summer and ended with a 3-9 record. That was the program’s worst record since a 2-10 finish in 2003. The offense only returns five starters but three along the offensive line. The first year HC Tim Albin’s QB platoon of Kurtis Rourke and Armani Rogers blew up in his face – Rourke now has the offense to himself, and that’s for the betterment of Ohio’s attack. Expect offensive improvement.

The defense was a little better than the offense last year (No. 96), and it’s likely to become an even more pronounced strength this fall. The Bobcats return nine starters on that side of the ball. The only loss of substance was DE Will Evans, and Ohio signed transfers at that position from Purdue and Michigan State to address the concern. Ohio projects to have a MAC-average defense. But the Bobcats also may have the best special teams unit in the conference.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 4.6
Las Vegas win total: 5.5
Thor’s bet: Pass

There’s a ludicrous amount of variance at play here. Ohio will likely go 1-3 in the games with double-digit spreads. But ATL sets lines of 7.0 or lower in the other eight games. Ohio’s outcomes are anywhere from 1-11 to 10-2. Because we can’t be sure how much the offense will improve, it doesn’t make sense to make a referendum against this schedule with so many coin-flip games.

Western Michigan Broncos
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 107 out of 131

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Western Michigan
Michigan State
Sat, Sep 3
27.5
0

Western Michigan
Ball State
Sat, Sep 10
-4.5
0.673

Pittsburgh
Western Michigan
Sat, Sep 17
23
0

Western Michigan
San Jose State
Sat, Sep 24
6.5
0.277

New Hampshire
Western Michigan
Sat, Oct 1
-17.5
1

Eastern Michigan
Western Michigan
Sat, Oct 8
0
0.5

Ohio
Western Michigan
Sat, Oct 15
-7
0.752

Western Michigan
Miami (OH)
Sat, Oct 22
8.5
0.198

Western Michigan
Bowling Green
Tue, Nov 1
-2
0.535

Northern Illinois
Western Michigan
Tue, Nov 8
1.5
0.475

Western Michigan
Central Michigan
Tue, Nov 15
7.5
0.219

Toledo
Western Michigan
Tue, Nov 22
12
0.116

 

Western Michigan went 8-5 last season, the best record of HC Tim Lester’s five-year tenure. Unless he retools a decimated offense quickly, Lester may follow up his best season with his worst. Gone are the vaunted aerial duo of QB Kaleb Eleby and WR Skyy Moore, as well as three standout starters along the offensive line. Only four starters return on offense. But the Broncos do have a nearly 2k-rushing yard duo returning in RBs Sean Tyler and La’Darius Jefferson.

Way more optimism on the defensive side. Seven starters return, including all-three linebackers along what already was one of the MAC’s best second-levels. The secondary returns two starters, one of them a second-team MAC corner. The only question is up front, where the Broncos lost a pair of first-team all-conference players in NT Ralph Holley and EDGE Ali Fayad. WMU may fall off a little from its MAC-leading 3.3 sacks per game in 2021.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 4.7
Las Vegas win total: 6.5
Thor’s bet: UNDER

Last year’s offense finished No. 12 in yards per game behind a balanced offense that could both throw and run. With the arrow pointing sharply down on the passing offense, and uncertainty at the offensive line potentially playing down the rushing attack, my numbers are pessimistic about the Broncos. The defense figures to be solid, but part of the reason WMU finished No. 10 in pass defense last year was its ability to pressure quarterbacks, and 19 sacks just walked out the door between Fayad and Holley, the team’s top-two finishers in that stat last year. Lester has never finished below .500, but he will need to uncover some hidden gems at critical positions to avoid ATL’s 4-8/5-7 projection.

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Author: Kenneth Patterson