Bowling Green Falcons (9-3 SU, 8-3 ATS) vs. No. 14 Northern Illinois Huskies (12-0 SU, 8-4 ATS)
College 2013 Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship Game
Date and Time: Friday, December 6, 2013, 8:00 pm EST
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BGSU +3/NIU -3
Over/Under Total: 57.5
The Northern Illinois Huskies are ranked 14th in the latest
BCS standings and may get stuck on the outside looking in at an at-large
bowl birth, but theres no certainty the Huskies will even repeat as Mid-American
Conference (MAC) champs with a date against their toughest challenge of
the season yet, the MAC East champion Bowling Green Falcons
and their top-ranked defense in the MAC Championship game Friday at Ford
Field in Detroit.
This game features a classic somethings going to give theme, as the Huskies and quarterback Jordan Lynch bring their top-ranked offense into the title game on Friday against the top-ranked defense of the Falcons. The top scoring offense in the MAC (NIU 42.8 ppg) versus the top scoring defense (BGSU 13.8 ppg), the top rushing offense and quarterback in Lynch going against one of the stiffest run defenses in the country you get the picture.
Lynch broke his own rushing mark in last weeks somewhat disappointing win over Western Michigan, 33-14, with 321 yards on just 27 carries. It was blatant on the Huskies part to get Lynch as much publicity as possible, but against a Falcons defense the Huskies better bring more balance this week or else.
Bowling Green comes in to the title game red hot, beating Buffalo on the road last week with the East division title on the line, 24-7. The Falcons defense has allowed only 17 points since their last loss in late October to Toledo (28-25 on Oct. 26), setting up a clash with Lynch and the Huskies with a shot at a 10-win season and their first-ever MAC title on the line.
Oddsmakers set the opening point spread for the neutral-site title game with Northern Illinois as 3-point favorites to win. Despite an overwhelming amount of money on the Huskies so far (up to 80% is on NIU), the line has yet to move much with only a few offshore sportsbooks listing minus -3.5 on their boards. The over/under total opened at 57.5 at most sportsbooks, but its up to as high as 58.5 at a few houses already.
In handicapping this game you can pretty much set your watch to the fact that the Huskies and Lynch are one of the most dynamic offenses in the MAC and in mid-major college football, but Bowling Green has become a defensive powerhouse over the years and at just about every category in offense-vs.-defense in the game youre going to see No.1-vs.-No.1 almost across the board. Figuring out who breaks is the million dollar question in this game.
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But there is one stat I found that could turn into a game-changer. Bowling Green relies on running back Travis Green to move the chains (1,422 yards, 11 TD), but its actually QB Matt Johnson and the Falcons passing game (257 ypg) that are poised to take advantage of Northern Illinois and their MAC-worst, 13th-ranked pass defense allowing 264 yards a game.
Northern Illinois will be trying for their third straight MAC title, in their fifth-straight title-game appearance (six total in school history). As mentioned, the Falcons are making their second appearance in a MAC title game (lost to Miami(OH) in 2003) and still looking for their first trophy for the case.
These two schools havent played each other in cross-MAC games since the 2011 season, a blowout 45-14 win for Northern Illinois. The Huskies have actually won three straight against Bowling Green (since 2004), but otherwise historically this series is pretty even (5-4 SU for NIU; 5-4 ATS for BGSU).
Four of those five head-to-head meetings finished under the total, making the under a strong trend wager for Friday night.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Last week when I watched Lynch run the ball EVERY down in the second half chasing some bogus record I thought to myself theyre going to wish they rested Lynch a little more. Bowling Green is no pushover, and with over 80 percent of the betting world backing the Huskies, theyll have some serious us against the world motivation too. The best wager here could be the under, since if the Falcons want a shot they have to keep the Huskies under three scores. Either way, Im taking the underdog Falcons to pull of the upset straight up, but Ill take the 3-points just in case.
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