No. 19 Northern Illinois Huskies(11-1SU,9-2-1ATS) vs.No. 18 Kent State Golden Flashes(11-1SU,10-2ATS)
College Football Week14 Championship Week
Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship
Date/Time:Friday, November 30th, 2012, 7:00 p.m.
Where:Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.
byBadger,Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread:NIU -5/KSU +5
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There will be no controversies on Friday night when the two best teams in the Mid-American Conference square off for a shot at the MAC Championship, when the 19th-ranked Northern Illinois Huskies meet the 18th-ranked Kent State Golden Flashes at Ford Field in Detroit on ESPN2.
Unlike the BCS or some of the other big conferences around the country, there will be no doubt who will reign in the MAC since the Huskies and Flashes were hands down clearly the two best teams in the MAC this season.
Northern Illinois ran the table in route to winning the MAC West, cruising through their conference portion of the schedule with ease including their tune-up game in their regular season finale at Eastern Michigan last Friday, 49-7. The Huskies only loss of the season came in the form of an, 18-17, loss at the hands of the Iowa Hawkeyes in the season opener, giving the Huskies a 10-game win streak and some huge momentum coming into the title game at Ford Field on Friday.
Northern Illinois not only will be trying to repeat as MAC Champions after winning last years game over Ohio (23-20), but they will be making their third straight trip to Detroit for the MAC title game after losing to Miami (OH) in 2010.
If its possible for the 18th-ranked team in the country to still be considered a Cinderella story, the Golden Flashes are it. Not only has Kent State come from the pack to run the table in the MAC East to qualify for a trip to Detroit, but they aced the final two tests in the division in back-to-back weeks to close out the season with victories over Bowling Green (31-24) and last Friday in the finale over Ohio (28-6).
This will be the Flashes first trip to a MAC Championship game since the conference expanded and added a title game, and their first chance at a MAC title since the 1972 season when they finished 4-1 and won the regular season title without a championship game.
Even though the point spread and total are still off the board at a majority of the offshore sportsbooks and all of the properties out in Las Vegas, the few that are listing a number for this game are showing Northern Illinois as5-point favorites in the neutral site game.
As of press time the total is still off the board.
The MAC title game will feature two of the countries most dangerous offenses led by the top two candidates for MAC player of the year, Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch and Kent State multipurpose back Dri Archer.
Lynch is the Huskies offense, period. The junior from Mt. Carmel, Ill., runs the Huskies read-option attack with deadly precision that has them among the top teams in FBS with over 483 yards a game (16th), 245 yards rushing a game (9th) and 40.5 points per game (12th). Lynch has hit 64 percent of his passes for 2,750 yards and a 23-to-4 touchdown to interception ratio, but when he keeps the ball hes at his most dangerous since hes run for over 1,611 yards and 16 TDs on the ground too.
Archer is barely 175-pounds dripping wet, but the senior has an extra gear that makes him the fastest player on the field anytime he steps between the lines. For the season Archer has 1,337 yards (9.7 ypc) and 14 touchdowns running the ball, but hes almost more dangerous in the passing game where hes accumulated 458 yards (15.3 ypc) and 4 touchdowns through the air.
Archer is not alone in the Golden Flashes backfield though, as fellow running back Trayion Durham is also a 1,000-yard rusher (1,176) and also has 14 scores on his resume.
If the old adage that defense wins championships holds true in this game, then the edge has to go to the Huskies. For the year Northern Illinois has put together a solid season (using MAC standards, of course) in allowing just 365 yards a game, but they do get stiff in the red zone since they have only allowed 17.5 points a game which is the 15th-best mark in FBS this season.
Kent State has had issues stopping the pass all season (282 ypg 116th), so dont be surprised if Lynch tries to take advantage of that weakness by pulling the ball back out and taking a few shots to Martel Moore over the top throughout the game.
Historically, Northern Illinois has had a big upper hand in their matchup versus the Flashes, winning six of the last seven head-to-head meetings against them including the last one last season, 40-10. In last years game Kent State was held to just one yard rushing and they went 1-for-15 on third down, but Archer didnt play at all in the game so its a safe bet that it wont be that easy for the Huskies in the title game.
Not only have the Huskies owned the series on the field, theyve also cashed betting tickets in five straight (5-0 ATS) and are 18-7-1 ATS in their last 26 games in the MAC. However, the Huskies do tend to struggle away from DeKalb, going just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 neutral site games (although its usually against bigger teams from bigger conferences).
Badger’sPick to Cover the Point Spread:I dont expect Kent State to be able to stop Lynch and the Huskies offense, nobody in the MAC has yet this season and its not like the Flashes have a top-notch defense. But the same could be said for Archer, Durham and the Flashes, as this will be the fastest offensive attack the Huskies have faced all season. Once a total is released I may have to take a serious look at the over (if its under 65), but I dont think this game will be a blow out. Im taking Kent State plus the points here.
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