Northern Illinois Huskies (6-2 SU, 3-5 ATS) vs. Ball State Cardinals (3-5 SU, 4-4 ATS)
NCAA Football Week 11
Date and Time: Wednesday, November 5, 2014, 8:00 pm EST
Where: Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, INd.
TV: ESPN2, DirecTV 209
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: N.Ill. -3/Ball St. +3
Over/Under Total: 63
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The Northern Illinois Huskies are still chasing their fifth straight Mid-American Conference West division title, and the chase continues Wednesday night in primetime on ESPN2 when they pay a visit to Scheumann Stadium to face the Ball State Cardinals.
The Huskies have rebounded pretty well since their stunning upset loss to Central Michigan at home in DeKalb back on October 11th, winning two in a row including a, 28-17, win over Eastern Michigan in their last game on October 25th. But you only have to look at their 3-5 ATS record and the numbers they havent been covering (-26 vs. Kent St., -17.5 vs. Eastern Mich.) and you can see that this Huskies team is not the juggernaut that everyone has grown accustomed to seeing dominate the MAC the past several seasons.
Theyll face a Ball State team that is on a nice little mini-run up the standings in the MAC, winning two straight conference games, including an equally stunning, 32-29, win over Central Michigan on the road and a solid 35-21 victory over Akron in their last game between the stripes on October 25th.
But the story continues for Northern Illinois, as they were installed as 3-point favorites going on the road this week. The over/under total opened at a modest 60 points for a MAC game, but the early steam has already moved the total up to 62.5 or even 63 already as folks used to watching 80-point shootouts in these mid-week games are pounding the over at the window.
As you would expect, the Huskies feature a dual threat at quarterback in sophomore Drew Hare, who with 1,226 yards passing and 11 TDs as well as 581 yards rushing, leads the team in most offensive categories. With 269 yards rushing each game (13th in FBS), the Huskies offense will certainly stress a Ball State defense that allows 152 yards rushing per game (8th in MAC).
But Ball State has averaged 35 points a game the past three weeks, coincidentally when sophomore quarterback Jack Milas was given the starting job over junior Ozzie Mann. The Cardinals also have one of the better running backs in the MAC in Jahwan Edwards, who has already run for 828 yards and eight touchdowns this season. The revamped and energized Cardinals offense will face a Huskies defense thats been playing well of late, allowing just 402 yards a game (theyre a MAC team so 400 yards allowed is good). Milas will be the key to Wednesdays game, because the Huskies are vulnerable to the pass giving up nearly 250 yards a game in the air (247 ypg).
Since the Huskies have dominated the MAC in recent seasons, its not a surprised that they have beaten the Cardinals in five straight meetings and seven of the last 10 dating back to the 2004 season. The last time the Cardinals were able to beat the Huskies at home was back in 2008, in a 45-14 thrashing that has been long forgotten in DeKalb and Muncie.
Most of the betting trends point in favor of Northern Illinois in this game too, including the Huskies 6-2 ATS record in their last eight visits to Scheumann Stadium. The road team is also 4-1 ATS in the last five, and Northern Illinois is also 8-0-1 ATS in their last nine road games against a team with a losing record. Add into the mix the Cardinals 1-4 ATS record in their last five home games, and you have a recipe for a Huskies win on the road in Muncie on Wednesday.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I know that almost every sign points toward a Northern Illinois win, but I really like the way the Cardinals have been playing with Milas at quarterback. Im willing to buck the trends, and the heavy, heavy public action on the Huskies in this game to call for the upset. Milas continues the Cardinals revival on offense and the Cardinals defend their home turf in a mild upset. Im taking the home underdog, Im taking Ball State plus the points.