MAC Football Odds: 2022 Media Poll, Sportsbook Futures Clash

Written By Brett Gibbons on July 26, 2022
MAC odds

The Mid-American Conference championship race is fascinating this year. MAC Championship odds suggest another wide-open race this year in a historically wide-open conference. Further complicating things, the preseason media poll dropped at MAC Media Days and it’s not reflective of posted MAC football odds.

Is there potential value among the clutter of odds and polls? What teams may be worth a look coming out of the MAC this college football season?

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2022 MAC Football Odds: Conference Champion

Line Shopping The MAC

At TheLines, we always stress the importance of line shopping, but there may not be a better example in college football than with this year’s MAC football odds. For example, Northern Illinois is offered as low as +400 at Caesars Sportsbook, but as high as +850 at BetRivers Sportsbook. Laying a $100 futures bet on NIU at +400 would offer $400 in winnings but a successful bet on NIU at BetRivers would offer a $850 in winnings– more than double what a bettor would win at Caesars. Line shopping can only help bettors maximize potential winnings.

Toledo (+400) is a consensus favorite at most books, except DraftKings Sportsbook, which lines Central Michigan as the favorite. However, CMU can be found for as long at +600 at FanDuel Sportsbook, tied for fourth on its odds table.

Other contenders like Miami (OH) vary less, but range from +375 at Caesars to +450 at FanDuel.

Where MAC Football Odds And The Media Poll Conflict

While Toledo is the popular favorite at sportsbooks, Northern Illinois is the favorite among media poll voters. The Huskies received 11 first-place votes in the West and nine votes to win the conference. On odds tables, NIU is no higher than third and as low as sixth (BetRivers).

The Rockets don’t fall too far behind among voters, receiving nine first-place votes in the West and six to win the MAC title.

Miami (OH) received the most first-place votes for their division, garnering 20 in the East and five to win the conference. The RedHawks are second and third on odds tables, with a price as long as +450 at BetRivers.

On the other end of the spectrum, CMU was picked third in the West and received the fourth-most votes to win the MAC in the Media Poll. However, they’re the favorite to win at DraftKings.

Longshots followed suit in the polls with little discrepancy.

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MAC College Football Betting Preview

Can NIU Win Back-To-Back Titles?

Both on odds tables and in the media poll, the MAC West is seen as the stronger division. Reigning champion NIU returns star QB Rocky Lombardi and all 11 starters on defense. In total, the Huskies return the second-most production in the MAC and the ninth-most overall. Lombardi gets receiver Trayvon Rudolph back, who exploded onto the scene with 14 receptions, 309 yards, and three touchdowns against Kent State a season ago.

MAC Coach of the Year Thomas Hammock said his offensive line will be the strength of the team as four starters return.

SP+ rates NIU second in the MAC, but there’s a wide gap between their rating (-5.5) and Toledo’s (3.9). FPI is more bearish, ranking the Huskies sixth (-9.6).

Should Toledo Be Favored?

According to established power ratings like the SP+ and FPI, there’s no question about it. The Rockets are head and shoulders above the rest of the conference thanks to a strong cast of returning starters. Toledo draws the second-hardest schedule in the MAC which includes trips to Ohio State and San Diego State, and pulls Kent State from the East.

Toledo led the MAC in scoring a season ago while also posting top-four marks in nearly every defensive category. According to Athlon Sports’ College Football Preview magazine, an opposing MAC coach said Toledo was “better than their record” in 2021. Losses to Colorado State, Eastern Michigan, and Middle Tennessee jump out. They lost five games by one score, including a near-upset of Notre Dame in South Bend.

The East’s Top Contender

Miami (OH) returns one of the MAC’s best quarterbacks in Brett Gabbert and four starters on the OL. The RedHawks’ passing attack was excellent in 2021, leading the MAC and ranking ninth nationally in EPA/play. They replace two starters out wide, but leading receiver Mac Hippenhammer is back for his senior season (former Penn State receiver).

Early down success rate (eighth nationally a year ago), a returning playmaker at QB, and a favorable conference slate should make Miami an interesting contender this season.

The Rest Of The Contenders

Kent State received nine first-place votes in the East, but none to win the conference overall. While out-of-conference slates rarely affect the MAC’s title race, the Golden Flashes picked the nation’s toughest OOC draw: at Washington, Oklahoma, and Georgia in their first four games (33rd toughest schedule overall). They lose QB Dustin Crum to the NFL, but talented backup Collin Schlee has a slew of weapons to support him this season, namely 1,200-yard rusher Marquez Cooper and 1,200-yard receiver Dante Cephas.

Central Michigan rosters the MAC’s top playmaker in running back Lew Nichols III. Nichols led the country in rushing after he picked up over 1,800 yards on the ground and scored 16 rushing touchdowns. He returns alongside QB Daniel Richardson, who led the conference in passing touchdowns. Together, they orchestrated one of the most explosive offenses in the entire nation (15th in EPA/play).

Forecast

  • With long odds even for the favorites, I’m approaching this year’s MAC by getting exposure to multiple teams at their best prices rather than put multiple units on one winner. NIU jumps off the page as a good bet based solely on how variable their odds are. Given their place on the media poll and at market maker books, I’m getting exposure to NIU at their longest price of +850 at BetRivers.
  • I’ve also placed bets on Miami (OH), Toledo, and Central Michigan since you can buy all three of them at or longer than 4-1 odds. These four are truly the top contenders and then the talent level drops off. Getting in on all four adds up to an implied 74.5% win rate with at lowest a breakeven win.

My MAC Futures Betting Card

Let’s use $50 as the base amount for one unit. Below is how I’d wager $150, or three units, on MAC football odds to win the conference championship. If Toledo wins, it will only scratch out a small profit, but if one of the other three win, we’re looking at a profit of about 2-2.25 units. You can adjust your unit size up or down depending on your bankroll. But the suggested betting card below is for one unit equaling $50:

  • $29.42 on NIU +850 (BetRivers) to win $250.07; net profit of $128.95
  • $47.78 on Miami OH +450 (BetRivers) to win $215.01; net profit of $112.25
  • $37.50 on Toledo +400 (DraftKings) to win $150; net profit of $36.96
  • $25.84 on CMU +600 (FanDuel) to win $215.04; net profit of $100.34

Lastly, Watch Kent State’s price early on. It likely won’t drop too far even with a 1-3 start due to their level of competition, but if it does, the Flashes may be worth a flier.

MAC Champion By Year

YearChampion
2021Northern Illinois
2020Ball State
2019Miami (OH)
2018Northern Illinois
2017Toledo
2016Western Michigan
2015Bowling Green
2014Northern Illinois
2013Bowling Green
2012Northern Illinois
2011Northern Illinois
2010Miami (OH)
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Written by
Brett Gibbons

Brett is an avid sports traveler and former Division-I football recruiter for Bowling Green and Texas State. He’s a graduate of BGSU and works as an auditor for Google content curation products. He’s also contributed to Sports Illustrated and Fansided during his young writing career.

View all posts by Brett Gibbons