Northern Illinois Huskies (8-4 SU, 7-3-2 ATS) vs. Bowling Green Falcons (9-3 SU, 9-3 ATS)
College Football Week 14 Marathon MAC Championship
Date/Time: Friday, December 4, 2015, 8:00 pm EST
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.
TV: ESPN2, DirecTV 209
by Badger, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NIU +10/BGSU -10
Over/Under Total: 71
The 19th annual Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship game will be the ultimate rubber match when the Northern Illinois Huskies and the Bowling Green Falcons tangle for the third straight year inside Ford Field in Detroit. Last year the Huskies blew out the Falcons 51-17 to win their third MAC title in the past four years, with only a 47-27 loss to the Falcons in 2013 at Ford Field keeping them from winning the MAC title for four straight.
The Huskies, who are actually playing in their sixth straight MAC Championship game, will come into the title game on a downer after losing their chance to win the MAC West on their own last Tuesday in a, 26-21, loss at home to Ohio. The Huskies got into the MAC title game as the MAC West winner when Western Michigan beat Toledo on Friday, allowing them to earn their sixth straight appearance by virtue of owning all of the tiebreakers over the Rockets.
The biggest question coming into the MAC Championship will be who will play quarterback for the Huskies. Already without starter Drew Hare for the last three weeks of the season, the Huskies also lost backup Ryan Graham midway through the loss to Ohio last week. Another freshman, Tommy Fiedler came in and did a solid job in relief (9-of-17, 113 yards and TD), but the Huskies cant be too excited about going into the title game with a third string QB as their starter now.
The QB position is a worry for the Huskies because Bowling Green is rolling and clinched the MAC East title several weeks ago in a, 62-24, victory over the same Ohio team that upset the Huskies last week. Fifth-year senior Matt Johnson has had a career year at QB for the Falcons with 4,400 yards and 41 touchdowns, and he looked solid again in his tune up last week in a, 48-10, victory over Ball State last Tuesday in MACtion.
With questions surrounding the Northern Illinois QB situation, oddsmakers opened the MAC Championship with Bowling Green as 10-point favorites on the neutral field. The over/under total opened at 71, as oddsmakers are expecting another shootout inside Ford Field for the 2015 MAC Championship.
The Falcons will enter the title game with the countrys 3rd-ranked offense averaging 566 yards a game. Johnson has run the Falcons no-huddle spread attack to perfection this season, and going up against a Northern Illinois defensive secondary that allows 233 yards a game (78th in FBS) should allow for Johnson to add to his touchdown numbers.
Without a true idea of which quarterback will be taking the snaps in this game for the Northern Illinois, either Graham or Fiedler, it will be hard to handicap the challenge ahead of the Huskies. Graham has done a good job of picking up right where Hare left off, but expecting either of the freshman signal callers to keep scoring points to try and keep up with the Falcons in this game will be a huge task for Rod Carey and his staff at Northern.
There are very few betting trend to follow in this game as well. Both teams were strong wagers in MAC play this season, with Bowling Green going 6-1 ATS in the MAC and Northern Illinois going 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven conference games. Perhaps the best value on the board for this game could be the under, since the under is 11-5 in the last 16 neutral site games that Northern Illinois has played in and the under is also 4-1 in the Falcons last five MAC games overall.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I fully expect the Huskies to give the Falcons a game you dont reach the MAC title game for six straight years by accident. However, without a fully healthy QB and possibly missing a dynamic playmaker like Tommylee Lewis (ankle), I just dont think the Huskies will have enough horses in this game to stay with them all game. Especially if the Falcons get close to their season average of 44 points a game. Im taking Bowling Green to complete their storybook 2015 season with a big victory in the title game. Im taking Bowling Green minus the points.
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