Northern Illinois Huskies (6-3 SU, 5-2 ATS) vs. Buffalo Bulls (5-4 SU, 6-3 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date/Time: Wednesday, November 11, 2015, 8:00 pm EST
Where: UB Stadium, Buffalo, N.Y.
TV: ESPNU, DirecTV 208
by Badger, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NIU -6/BUFF +6
Over/Under Total: OFF
Fresh off of an upset over undefeated Mid-American Conference (MAC) rival Toledo on last weeks Tuesday Night MAC-tion on ESPN2, the Northern Illinois Huskies will go back out on the road for Wednesday Night MAC-tion when they travel to UB Stadium in Buffalo, N.Y., to take on the Buffalo Bulls on ESPNU.
The Huskies have been the thorn in the side of the Rockets for years now, and last Tuesday they did it again spoiling their perfect season thus far with two fourth-quarter scoring drives behind backup QB Ryan Graham including a late touchdown run in the closing minutes to finish off a, 32-27, come from behind upset. The win was the Huskies fourth straight, and it put them into a four-way tie for second place in the MAC West title chase. But with a showdown against first-place Western Michigan looming on the schedule next, the Huskies better not get caught looking ahead this week when they travel to Buffalo.
But the Huskies may not get a chance to look too far ahead, because the victory over Toledo came at a high cost. Not only did they lose starting QB Drew Hare to a season-ending Achilles injury, but dynamic dual-threat receiver Tommylee Lewis left the game with a knee injury and is questionable for Wednesdays game in Buffalo.
Buffalo has been playing some decent football of late under first-year coach Lance Leipold, finally learning his system and seeing the results on the gridiron. The Bulls are also sporting a three-game win streak, thanks in part to a last-minute victory of their own last week at home in a, 18-17, stunner over Kent State. With three weeks left to get their sixth win of the season to become bowl eligible, the Bulls would like to take care of business this week with an upset of the now injured Huskies on their home turf.
With a little less than 48 hours until this game kicks off, currently Northern Illinois is favored by 6-points on the road. But clearly that number is based on the short memory of public bettors who will just look at the Huskies big win over Toledo and think theyll role to another easy one this week. But with a freshman quarterback starting his first career college game, and a dinged up weapon in Lewis, the Huskies are going to have to earn this one on Wednesday.
As of press time the over/under total for this game has not yet been released.
Graham looked solid when he was pressed into action last week in Toledo, finishing 9-of-12 passing for 132 yards and a score and adding 41 yards rushing on 10 carries. I expect the Huskies to rely heavily on running back Joel Bouagnon to try and take pressure off of Graham, which could work out in the Huskies favor anyway since the Bulls defense gives up yardage in the run game to the tune of 153 yards a game (53rd in FBS).
When Buffalo has the ball they feature a solid one-two combination in senior QB Joe Licata (2,066 yards, 12 TD, 8 INT) and junior running back Jordan Johnson (635 yards, 8 TD). Johnson has scored five of his eight TDs during the three game win streak and has helped to bring a little more balance to the Bulls attack. The Huskies defense looked pretty good last week in stopping Toledo, forcing three turnovers against the Rockets as one of the best takeaway defenses in the MAC.
As you would expect, Northern Illinois has dominated this matchup with Buffalo of late, winning all seven of these two school lifetime meetings including last years game in DeKalb, 45-3. The lasttime the Huskies made the trip to UB Stadium in upstate New York they were taken to the wire by the Bulls, sneaking outta town with a narrow win, 31-30.
If youre looking for a betting trend in this game worthy of a wager, you may look at the under. Not only is Northern Illinois breaking in a new QB, but the Bulls arent really a scoring juggernaut and overall the under is a solid 4-1 in the last five meetings. Buffalo is 5-2 ATS in their last seven MAC games, but Northern Illinois is an eye-popping 20-6-2 ATS in their last 28 road games so they seem to play weel and cover the number away from home.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: At first glance this looks like an easy number for the Huskies to cover, but something tells me in my gut that its not going to be that easy. A freshman QB making his first start, and the fact theres just no way the Huskies will be as motivated for this game following the upset over rival Toledo last week. On the flip side, this is the Bulls biggest game of 2015 and their chance to knock off the defending champs at home plenty of motivation. Buffalo finds a way to keep it close and just may find a way to win it straight up, but either way Im taking Buffalo plus the points.
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