Northern Illinois Huskies (7-5) +12, o/u 47 vs. TCU Horned Frogs (10-2), 8 p.m. Eastern Tuesday, ESPN2
by Predictem.com Staff
The Northern Illinois Huskies of the MAC and the TCU Horned Frogs of the
Mountain West Conference kick off the 2006-07 college football bowl season
when they hook up in the Poinsettia Bowl Tuesday night in San Diego.
Northern Illinois started this season by losing its first two games, including a 35-12 decision at Ohio State in the season opener. The Huskies then reeled off four straight wins, but then suffered through a stretch in which they lost three of four games. But NI recovered just in time to win its last two games and finish at 7-5 overall, 5-3 and tied for third place in the MAC’s Western Division.
TCU began this season by winning its first three games, then lost to BYU at home and at Utah. But the Frogs won their last seven games in a row to finish at 10-2 overall, 6-2 and in second place (behind the Cougars) in the Mountain West.
The Huskies are powered by the leading rusher in Division 1 football this season, RB Garrett Wolfe, who ran for 1,900 yards at a 6.6 yards-per-carry clip and 18 TDs. The senior back, playing in his final collegiate game, has racked up more than 5,000 yards rushing and 52 touchdowns in his career at Northern Illinois.
TCU runs a very balanced offense that averaged 192 rushing yards and 210 yards through the air per game.
The Huskies offense ranked 24th in D1 by averaging 389 total yards per game, while the Horned Frogs defense ranks 4th in the country by allowing just 250 yards PG.
On the other side of the ball, the TCU offense ranked 17th this season by averaging 405 total yards PG, while the Northern Illinois defense ranks 80th by giving up 357 TYPG.
Sophomore QB Dan Nicholson will make his fifth career start for the Huskies Tuesday night. Nicholson has had to take over for senior QB Phil Horvath, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in November. This season, Nicholson has completed 55% of his passes and owns a 4/4 TD/INT ratio.
Frogs senior QB Jeff Ballard is 18-2 straight up and 14-5 against the spread as a starter. This season, Ballard has hit on 62% of his throws and owns a 12/5 TD/INT ratio.
Northern Illinois has outrushed opponents this season by a 180-107 yards-per-game average.
TCU, thanks to the 9th-ranked running game and the 4th-ranked run defense in the country, has outgrounded foes this season by a 192-68 YPG margin.
The Huskies are only 4-7 against the spread this season, but 3-0 ATS as an underdog, covering while losing to Ohio State and Iowa and beating Central Michigan outright.
The Frogs are 8-3 vs. the number this season, and 3-1 ATS when favored by double digits.
TCU ranked 23rd in D1 with an average time-of-possession of 31:24, while Northern Illinois ranked 56th at 29:55.
The O/U is 6-5 in Frogs games this season, with those games averaging 41 points. Huskies games are averaging 47 points this season, but the O/U is only 3-8 in those games.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR rankings at USAToday.com rate TCU 17th at 82.9, Northern Illinois 76th at 67.9. Sagarin ranks the Frogs schedule as the 89th-toughest in the country, the Huskies slate as the 113th-toughest. And Sagarin ranks the Mountain West as the 7th-best league in D1, the MAC 11th-toughest.
TCU opened up as 11′-point chalk for Tuesday’s game, with a total of 46, and neither of those numbers has moved very much.