No. 25 Northern Illinois Huskies (10-2 SU, 9-2-1 ATS) vs. Miami
(Ohio) RedHawks (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS), Mid-American Conference
Championship, 7:00 p.m. EST, Friday, December 3, 2010, Ford Field,
Detroit, Mich., TV: ESPN2
by Badger of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: NIU -17/Mia (OH) +17
Over/Under Total: 54
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The 25th-ranked Northern Illinois Huskies will try and complete a
perfect run through the conference schedule when they take on the
Miami (Ohio) Redhawks in the Mid-American Conference (MAC)
Championship game at Ford Field in Detroit Friday night on ESPN2.
The Huskies swept through the West Division of the MAC without a
defeat, completing their perfect season with a, 71-3, trouncing of
Eastern Michigan last Friday. Northern Illinois was rewarded for
their strong season on Sunday when the BCS inserted them at No. 25 in
the latest rankings, the first time a team from the MAC has been
ranked in the BCS since Ball State spent a week in the rankings in 2008.
The Miami Redhawks finished the year with a four-game winning streak,
but they didnt clinch the East Divisions bid into the MAC title
game until late last Friday when Ohio was upset by Kent State in the
season finale. Miami took care of business on their end with a, 23-3,
victory over Temple on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, setting the
stage for an appearance in the game at Ford Field when Ohio lost
three days later.
The oddsmakers out in Las Vegas opened the MAC Championship game with
Northern Illinois as big 14.5-point favorites, but the point spread
quickly shot up to 17-points as everyone and their brother has
wagered on the Huskies during the early action.
The over/under total has also seen its share of line movement,
opening at 52.5 and moving up to its current number of 54 after just
a few hours of wagering at the window.
The lopsided point spread is directly related to the offense involved
in this game, with a Huskies unit who has averaged 65 points per game
the last three weeks and over 450 yards per game all season long
getting the most attention.
Northern Illinois enjoys one of the best quarterback-running back
duos in the country in regards to running the spread-option offense,
with Chandler Harnish (761 yards, 5 TD) and Chad Spann (1,239 yards, 20 TD) both a major reason why the Huskies tally of 279 yards per
game rushing is 7th-best in the NCAA.
What has separated the Huskies from the rest of the MAC this season
has been Harnishs ability to throw the ball. With nearly 2,000 yards
(1,949) and a 17-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio, Harnish has
proven he is capable of taking advantage of 8- and 9-man fronts
designed to stop the Huskies running attack.
Miami offense has been run by redshirt freshman Austin Boucher the
past few weeks, who has been filling in for Zac Dysert who lacerated
his spleen in the Bowling Green game November 10th. Boucher struggled
in his first start against a weak Akron team (a 19-14 win), then
improved a little (15-of-28, 155 yards, 2 TD) in the victory over
Temple, but its still a huge question as to what kind of game well
see out of the Redhawks on Friday with Boucher behind center.
The Redhawks took advantage of a huge 95-yard touchdown run by Thomas
Merriweather to pull away from Temple in the fourth quarter last
week, but even without that run Miami was averaging 4.2 yards per
carry and was trying to take the pressure off of the young QB by
pounding the ball on the ground. They might struggle with that game
plan against a Huskies defense that doesnt look that imposing but
finished as the 16th-ranked scoring defense in the country (18.5 ppg).
These two schools didnt face each other during the regular season
this year, which is good for the Redhawks because Northern Illinois
has won five straight against them. The last one was a 27-22 victory
last year (Miami covered as 10-point underdogs).
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Miami has covered in three straight though, and is 7-3 ATS in the
head-to-head matchup with the Huskies dating back to the 1985 season.
Miami also has one MAC title in their trophy case, winning the crown
in 2003 in a 49-27 win over Bowling Green. The Redhawks have also
lost in the title game twice (in 2004 and 2007). Northern Illinois
has only played in one MAC title game, losing in 2005 to Akron, 31-30.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I must admit I am a little scared by the huge line
movement toward Northern Illinois in this game, but Im also not
surprised because I think it should be more. The Huskies are the
class of the MAC this season, and while the Redhawks might hang
around for a while (1st-half play?), Northern Illinois will pull away
and cover even the large number of 17 points. Take Northern minus the