Northern Illinois Huskies (5-3 SU, 4-2-2 ATS) vs. No. 20 Toledo Rockets (7-0 SU, 6-0-1 ATS)
College Football Week 10
Date/Time: Tuesday, November 3, 2015, 8:00 pm EST
Where: Glass Bowl, Toledo, Ohio
TV: ESPN2, DirecTV 209
by Badger, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NIU +8/TOL-8
Over/Under Total: OFF
The two schools that have dominated the top of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) West division standings for the last decade are set to renew their annual battle for bragging rights and the inside track to the MAC West title, when the Northern Illinois Huskies travel to the Glass Bowl to face the Toledo Rockets on an early Tuesday Night college football special on ESPN2.
Toledo, currently ranked 20th in the Associated Press poll, enters the Tuesday night national spotlight undefeated, rolling to a, 51-35, victory over Massachusetts in their last game on October 24th. The Rockets havent really been tested in the past few weeks with conference victories over Eastern Michigan, Kent and Ball State, so the extra couple of days to prepare for the Huskies couldnt have come at a better time for the Rockets leading into the early week showdown.
Northern Illinois already has a conference loss in the MAC West, losing at Central Michigan back in the conference opener in early October, 29-19. But theyve certainly rebounded nicely since then, averaging 51 points per game in victories over Ball State, Miami-Ohio and Eastern Michigan including a, 49-21, shellacking of Eastern Michigan last time out on October 24th. As the five-time West champs, the Huskies will do everything they can on Tuesday to get back in the race.
Considering how competitive the Huskies-vs.-Rockets series has been in recent years, it is a mild surprise to see oddsmakers open this game with Toledo as 8-point favorites. As of press time, an over/under total has yet to be released for this game, but when a total is finally released you can expect it to be in the 70s.
The total should open that high because once again the Huskies and Rockets feature two of the countrys top scoring offenses. Forget the fact that Tuesday Night MAC games in recent years seem to have set records for how fast teams can score, but with the Rockets (21st in FBS 37 ppg) and the Huskies (36.8 ppg 23rd) are certainly capable of taking it to another level. Both offenses are similar in scheme, both are led by senior quarterbacks and both have multiple running backs to keep fresh legs to put continuous pressure on opposing defenses.
Northern Illinois Drew Hare is enjoying a solid season again in 2015, throwing for 1,817 yards with 13 TDs to just three interceptions. Hare was the main cog in the Huskies offensive machine last year, but this year he has given way to running back Joel Bouagnon for that role. Bouagnon has 863 yards already and 14 touchdowns, leading the Huskies running attack that totals 218 yards per game (19th in FBS).
Toledos QB Phillip Ely is not as good of a passer (only 55%, 15 TDs/7 INT), but to the Rockets credit they dont let his shortcomings in the passing game hurt the run-pass balance as the Rockets average 258 yards a game passing and 213 running for a total of 471 yards a game which is currently the 24th best tally in all of FBS. A two-headed combo of Terry Swanson (590 yards, 5TD) and Damion Jones-Moore (387, 5 TD) out of the backfield help keep the Rockets attack fresh.
Last years meeting between these two was another good one, a narrow, 27-24, victory by Northern Illinois at home in DeKalb. The game, complete with almost 900 yards of offense and 500 of it on the ground, was just another classic MAC game that was played in front of a national audience on Tuesday night. Traditionally, the series between these two schools favors the underdog (9-4 ATS in L13), and not surprisingly the dog has been the road team of late because the visitors are a solid 4-0 ATS going back the last four meetings.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Huskies may not be as strong as years past, but they are still the champs of the MAC West until someone takes it away from them. Toledo made its name this season in their season opening upset of Arkansas, but they havent played anybody good since. Putting 50 points up on the Kents and Eastern Michigans of the MAC is inflating the point spread for this game. Toledo is good, but this is going to be their first test since September so they better be ready for primetime. Im taking Northern Illinois plus the 8-points.
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