Wednesday nights are the exclusive domain of the Mid-American Conference for the first time in a handful of seasons. Whereas every other day of the week will see teams from different conferences square off over the course of the season, Wednesday is the territory of the MAC. For two decades, the MAC has carved out a little niche for itself, with both seasoned bettors and college football junkies tuning in for some midweek MACtion over the last month of the season.
History of Wednesday Night College Football
Midweek football is nothing new for the MAC. The conference first started playing midweek college football games back in 1999, and, over the course of the last 20 years, the MAC has slowly shifted to have the majority of its conference games in the last month of the season take place in the middle of the week. Last season, 22 MAC football games were played between the final week of October and the final week of November.
The two reasons for the move are exposure and money. The MAC is largely an afterthought on Saturdays, with most college football fans only tuning in when a MAC team is playing a Power Five team. The conference would only be able to find regional television deals if they were to stay with the traditional Saturday model, and they would have no chance of growing their brand nationally. Midweek football allows the conference to reach a national audience and get the television revenue needed to try to remain competitive with the heavyweights of the sport.
Another conference has followed the MAC’s blueprint: The Sun Belt Conference has been a midweek staple for quite some time too, but while they will have games on Tuesday and Thursday this season, there will be no Wednesday games for the conference.
Wednesday Night College Football Broadcast Information
ESPN has exclusive broadcast rights to the MAC, thanks to a deal signed four years ago. According to SB Nation’s Hustle Belt, a website dedicated to all things MAC, the deal lasts through 2026-27 and gives ESPN the rights to all MAC sports, not just football. The two parties have been partners since 2003, and it makes sense for both sides to want the deal. No sports network has more outlets or exposure than ESPN, and the network is always looking for content to fill gaps in programming.
The new deal did add a wrinkle to the broadcasting rights too. ESPN is now able to sub-license broadcasting rights out to other networks, increasing the exposure of the conference. However, that can also lead to scenarios where games are competing against each other for viewers, as most Wednesday night games start at 7 or 8 p.m. ET.
Additionally, it is now possible to stream the game on either ESPN3 or ESPN+. In 2017, it was possible to watch all the Wednesday night offerings on ESPN3, but it looks like the Worldwide Leader might be putting some of these games behind a paywall in order to get people to pay the $5 per month for ESPN+. Only one of the five games scheduled to be on Wednesday night has a definite start time and broadcast network, so ESPN may decide to go this route.
Wednesday Night College Football Betting Strategies
One of the first things to consider when betting on Wednesday night football is fatigue. The MAC has taken steps to mitigate this factor recently, but it is still something to keep in mind. Teams are no longer allowed to play more than two straight road games and teams are supposed to have similar amounts of rest coming into games, but that’s not always the case.
Given the time and location of Wednesday night football games, it’s also important to check out the weather prior to kickoff. All five of the slated Wednesday night games will be played in the Midwest, late in the year. Every MAC team plays in an outdoor stadium, so bad weather could have an impact on the game. It’s important to keep in mind that rain has not been proven to have an impact when it comes to the side or the total, but there is a relationship between a windy forecast and the under.
There is one more factor to consider when you bet on any midweek college football game, and it’s one that few bettors take into account. Some schools might have mid-terms or finals the week of a game, and that is something shrewd bettors must consider. We often overlook the student part of student-athlete, but it does make a difference. Especially outside the elite tier of college football where many players don’t have a shot at the NFL.
2018 Wednesday Night College Football Schedule
Week 10: Ball State Cardinals at Toledo Rockets (Oct. 31) at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Week 11: Ohio Bobcats at Miami (OH) Redhawks (Nov. 7) on TBD
Week 11: Toledo Rockets at Northern Illinois Huskies (Nov. 7) on TBD
Week 12: Buffalo Bulls at Ohio Bobcats (Nov. 14) on TBD
Week 12: Miami (OH) Redhawks at Northern Illinois Huskies (Nov. 14) on TBD
There are 12 teams in the MAC, but only six of those 12 teams are slated to play Wednesday night games this season. Four teams will play in two games each, and perhaps it’s no surprise that all four of those teams are considered to have the best chance of winning the conference.
According to BetDSI, the Ohio Bobcats are the favorites to win the MAC at +250. The Northern Illinois Huskies are listed just behind them with odds of +350 to win the conference and the Toledo Rockets sit at +400. The Miami (OH) Redhawks are the longshot with odds of +900 to win the MAC, but they play in the much easier East Division.