2009 Independence Bowl Preview and Pick – Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Northern Illinois Huskies (6-6) -1.5, 47 O/U vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (7-5)
Independence Bowl, Shreveport, L.A., Dec. 28th, 8:15PM Eastern

By Jay Horne of Predictem.com

The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs will stay very close to home this bowl season when they take on the Northern Illinois Huskies in Shreveport, L.A. The Bulldogs had a surprising year winning 5 of their last 7 games and earning a bowl berth after only winning two games all of last season. The Huskies finished the season at the .500 mark losing 4 of those 6 games by four points or less. Northern Illinois will be playing in their 3rd bowl game in 5 years and they will go to war with the Bulldogs in their home state of Louisiana.

Northern Illinois ranks towards the bottom half of offensive teams in college football only averaging 330 yards of total offense. The Huskies have a fairly solid running game that averages slightly less than 170 yards per game that has done well this season. The running attack ranks in the top 40 for rush offenses in the nation. The Huskies offense is responsible for 25 points per game. While the offensive number may be low, the Husky defense has been as solid as any team in America. The Huskies defense ranks in the top 20 overall holding teams to 299 yards per game of total offense and only allowing 18 points per contest. Northern Illinois will look for the defense to play big as they go for their 3rd Division I bowl victory in the programs history.

Louisiana Tech has an offense very similar to the Huskies. The Bulldogs offense has been mediocre at best this season averaging 366 yards per game of total offense. Louisiana Tech averages the exact same number of points as Northern Illinois at 25 points per game. Similar to the Huskies, the Bulldogs have a strong ground game that pounds out 196 yards per game ranking them in the top 30 in all of college football. The Louisiana Tech defense has not faired well against competition this season, but do sport a very solid run defense which will be tested heavily from the Huskies.

Bookmakers opened the betting for the Independence Bowl favoring Northern Illinois by 1.5 points over the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have won the last 3 games they were the underdogs and will try to do the same again. The over/under for the contest is posted at the 47 mark with many of the early bettors favoring the over total for the game. ML numbers have the Huskies as the -110 favorites and the Bulldogs at even money.

Northern Illinois running back Meco Brown and quarterback Chandler Harnish have shared carries this season equally. Both have slightly over 100 carries and together they have accounted for 6 touchdowns. The Huskies run a lot of quarterback keepers and misdirection plays that produce a big run heavy offense. Running back Chad Spann has limited carries this season, but accounts for a team leading 8 touchdowns. Spann only averages around 7 or 8 touches a game likely in power situations and his made the opportunities count. The Huskies hope the strong running game and defense will be too much for the Bulldogs offense to overcome.

Louisiana Tech has a big name running back as well in junior Daniel Porter. Porter has received the bulk of the carries this season, but running back Patrick Johnson will get some opportunities as well. Porter has 206 touches this season for 1086 yards 8 touchdowns. Johnson has equaled his teammates total of 8 touchdowns, but only has 644 yards on 138 carries. The Bulldogs will not throw the ball a great deal of times, but when they do look for them to hook up with wide out Phillip Livas. Livas has 39 catches this season for 589 yards and 2 touchdowns. It will be interesting to see which rushing offense can establish themselves in this game and if there is any movement of the football through the air.

Betting Trends
Louisiana Tech is 4-1 SU in their last 5 games while reaching the over total in 4 of those 5 games as well. Northern Illinois has a 1-4 ATS mark in their last 5 games and has reached the over total in 3 of their last 4 games. Louisiana Tech is also 3-1 SU over Northern Illinois in their past 4 meetings.

Jays Pick – I like the over in this game. Take the over 47.