Sports Betting Angle: How Rare was EMU’s Upset of Arizona State?

The Mid-American Conference has carved out a niche within the college football universe by scheduling most of its late-season conference games in the middle of the week.

MACtion, as it has become known, has rescued sports fans who hate the football-less chasm between Monday and Saturday by delivering high-scoring, back-and-forth games on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The MAC would love to be known as something else, too — giant killers.

That would be great news for sports bettors who want to pad their bankrolls with large plus-money payouts from Michigan sports betting apps. Some lucky bettors got to experience nice profits last weekend when Eastern Michigan defeated Arizona State 30-21 despite being 20.5-point underdogs and +800 on the moneyline. 

It was the first win for a MAC team over a Pac-12 team during the regular season no matter the point spread, but if you consider the hefty point spread, the win was incredibly rare.

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MAC’s History of Upsets

Although it was the first regular season win for a MAC team over a Pac-12 team, it was not the first win for a MAC team over one of the big boys as a significant underdog.

Following EMU’s win over Arizona State, six MAC teams have defeated a Power Five team despite being underdogs of at least 20 points. The Eagles had 14 chances to do so between 2009 and 2021 but lost all of those games by at least 16 points.

The last time it happened was in 2021 when Bowling Green defeated Minnesota 14-10 as 30.5-point underdogs. Two of the other four such wins belong to Akron, and Toledo and Ohio University have done it once apiece.

Sept. 17, 2022EMU 30, Arizona State 21EMU +20.5
Sept. 25, 2021Bowling Green 14, Minnesota 10Bowling Green +30.5
Sept. 15, 2018Akron 39, Northwestern 34Akron +21.5
Sept. 12, 2015Toledo 16, Arkansas 12Toledo +23
Sept. 27, 2014Akron 21, Pittsburgh 10Akron +20.5
Sept. 29, 2000Ohio University 23, Minnesota 17Ohio +20

Sports bettors who want to take a shot at another big MAC upset have several options on Saturday, Sept. 24.

DraftKings Michigan lists Central Michigan as a 26-point underdog and +1500 on the moneyline against Penn State.

FanDuel Michigan lists Bowling Green as a 29.5-point underdog and +2000 on the moneyline against Mississippi State.

At BetMGM Michigan, Northern Illinois is a 26.5-point underdog and +1400 against Kentucky.

More History

If you combine the straight-up records of MAC teams in games in which they were underdogs of at least 20 points, it is not pretty. That is to be expected, though.

In its last 30 games as a 20-point (or greater) underdog, Bowling Green is 3-27 straight-up. That’s the most wins in the conference. Akron and Central Michigan have two wins apiece, while Eastern Michigan, Toledo, Western Michigan, Ohio University, and Ball State have each won once.

Among the MAC teams with zero wins in their last 30 games as 20-point underdogs, are Kent State, Miami, Northern Illinois, and Buffalo.

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EMU’s Win Over Arizona State

Eastern Michigan started fast with 10 points in the first quarter and never trailed. Every time Arizona State scored to make it a one-score game, the Eagles responded by being the next team to score.

Running back Samson Evans led the way with 258 rushing yards and one touchdown on 36 carries. It was the third-most rushing yards in a single game in EMU history. The loss was the final game for Herm Edwards as Arizona State’s coach. He was fired the following day.

The win is coach Chris Creighton’s fourth over a Power Five team, and he is the only MAC coach who has multiple wins over a Power Five team. Under Creighton, EMU defeated Rutgers in 2017, Purdue in 2018, and Illinois in 2019.

“Part of the message was when you get to play such a prestigious school in a prestigious conference with phenomenal coaches and super talented players just reminding our guys that logos and what other people think is not what truly defines you,” Creighton said. “People aren’t inherently better than other people and whatnot. I’m just proud that our guys believed in themselves and wanted to play at a high level. To come out victorious is a really big deal to us.”

AP Photo/Darryl Webb

About the Author

Corey Roepken

Corey Roepken is News Editor for Michigan Sharp. Roepken has 20 years of experience as a sports journalist in Michigan, Texas, and Tennessee. Most notably, he covered professional and international soccer for the Houston Chronicle. He has also covered college softball, SEC football, the MLB, and the NFL.