Ball State Cardinals (9-1 SU, 7-3 ATS) vs. No. 18 Northern Illinois Huskies (9-0 SU, 6-3 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date and Time: Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 8:00 pm EST
Where: Huskie Stadium, Dekalb, Ill.
TV: ESPN2/DirecTV 209
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Ball St. +6.5/N.Ill. -6.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
The battle for the top spot in the Mid-American Conference West Division standings will get its proper primetime spot this Wednesday night on ESPN2, when the Ball State Cardinals try and knock the 18th-ranked Northern Illinois Huskies off the MAC West throne in a tough road game in the elements of Huskie Stadium in Dakalb.
Of course anytime you talk about Northern Illinois the conversation leads to quarterback Jordan Lynch, who has helped get the Huskies right back to undefeated and in the top-20 with over 335 yards of total offense by himself so far. With three games yet to play, Northern Illinois is hoping to stay undefeated and somehow get another chance at an at-large birth into the BCS, but that cannot happen if they don’t take care of business at home against the Cardinals.
On the other hand, Ball State is probably the quietest 9-1 team in college football this season. With their only loss coming in a week three nail-biter at North Texas (34-27), the Cardinals have reeled off seven straight wins including a “signature” victory on the road at Virginia that should have more people talking about the boys from Ball State. Knocking the Huskies off the throne that they’ve held in the MAC for a few seasons would open some eyes, but they’ll have to play a near flawless game to do it.
With Northern Illinois in cruise control through the MAC thus far, oddsmakers installed the Huskies as 6.5-point favorites when they opened up the college football point spreads this week. That will be notable too, because it is the lowest spread the Huskies have faced all season since they destroyed Purdue at Purdue as 3-point favorites, 55-24. With 70 to 75 percent of all of the wagers for this game coming in on Northern Illinois, the number has moved up to minus -7 at most sportsbooks, with a few -7.5s starting to filter in before kickoff.
As of press time, there has not been a total released yet.
Offensively, everyone knows that the Huskies go as far as Lynch takes them every week. Lynch is averaging 127 yards on the ground, 208 passing as he leads the team to the top spots in the MAC with over 44 points per game and 545 yards of total offense each week.
Ball State sits right behind Northern in the MAC, ranked second in points (39.9) and yards (475) per week, but the Cardinals do it through the air, with senior quarterback Keith Wenning throwing for over 316 yards a game and 27 touchdowns already. Willie Snead is Wenning’s top target and he leads the MAC with 74 receptions and 117 yards a game.
With all of this offense on the field this week, it’s a safe bet that if you can handicap the defenses better for this game you may find an edge. That’s where we have an interesting development, because Northern Illinois struggles bad against the pass (allowing 272 ypg – last (13th) in the MAC). Now that is a little deceiving because the Huskies have been up by so many scores in most games that teams are forced to throw and throw and throw to get back into games with them. However, it is something to think about before walking to the window.
Looking at the trends for this game provides a few nuggets of info as well. This series historically has been a good one for the road team, with the visitor covering (4-0 ATS) in the last four meetings. Ball State is a quiet 40-14 ATS in their last 54 road games, and 8-3 ATS in their last 11 MAC games, so don’t sleep on the Cards.
Northern Illinois is also a strong wager in conference play (22-8-2 ATS in last 32 MAC games), and a good bet at home too (7-3-1 ATS in last 11).
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: With everyone and their brother betting on Northern Illinois, there’s not a whole lot of value in this game really. If I play this game I may take a shot on Ball State keeping this game closer than a touchdown, so I’d take Ball State and the points.
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