Northern Illinois vs. Ball State Odds & Prediction
Northern Illinois Huskies (0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS) vs. Ball State Cardinals (1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS)
When: Wednesday, November 18, 7 p.m.
Where: Schuemann Stadium, Muncie, Ind.
Point Spread: NIU +14/BALL -14 (Intertops Sportsbook - Deposit $25 and get a FREE $50 bet! That’s a 200% bonus! Must use bonus code ROOKIE200)
Total: O/U 60
Does Northern Illinois have anything left to play for at this point? The Huskies have already lost two home games, and the season appears to be quickly spiraling out of control for them. Worse, the defense badly let them down against Central Michigan. After giving a credible effort against Buffalo, the defense held tight for two quarters before collapsing in the second half, turning a 9-0 halftime deficit into a 40-10 loss. Dating back to last season, Northern Illinois has given up 40 or more points in three of their past four games, with all of them going in the loss column.
That could be a death sentence against Ball State, which has been all offense all the time. The Cardinals have seen 69 points put up in both of their first two games, mainly because nobody’s been able to stop them, and they haven’t been able to stop anyone. Ball State had to come from behind last week against Eastern Michigan but ended up doing just enough to get the victory by riding the legs of Caleb Huntley. With Northern Illinois giving up more than 200 yards a game on the ground, can the Cardinals take advantage of defensive inefficiencies and put themselves in the MAC West title chase?
How the Public is Betting the Northern Illinois/Ball State Game
The tickets and money are both coming in on the Cardinals, as 66 percent of all tickets have come in on Ball State. That’s pushed the line up a point, from the starting number of 13 to the current number. The total has dropped 2.5 points, falling from 62.5 points to 60.
Linebacker Lance Deveaux Jr. is questionable with an undisclosed issue while running back Jeyvon Ducker is out with an ankle injury.
Safety Ben Stewart, offensive lineman Luke Martin, offensive lineman Kevin Meeder and tight end Wes Obermeier are questionable with undisclosed issues. Wide receiver Qian Magwood is out for the season with an undisclosed issue.
When Northern Illinois Has the Ball
The offense isn’t getting the job done for Northern Illinois, which is a big reason why the Huskies are 0-2 and fading fast. The Huskies’ defense can only carry things so far, and after trying to carry the team through the first half, they fell apart when the offense continued to sputter. The Huskies’ ground game hasn’t yet seen anyone stand out as someone who can be counted on for big yardage, while Ross Bowers hasn’t really made strides in the passing game.
To his credit, Bowers isn’t losing the game for the Huskies, but to his discredit, he’s also not winning anything. Bowers has just one touchdown and one interception, as he’s mainly getting a fair amount of yards in no-man’s land before the drive ends with either a punt, field goal, or turnover on downs. Without a reliable ground game to back him up, opponents have been able to make sure that Tyrice Richie doesn’t beat them, and Northern Illinois hasn’t been able to find a response. Richie has a good amount of yards to his name but no touchdowns, as NIU can’t really figure out how to get him free. That plus 2.9 yards per carry has the Huskies sputtering, as they have just five touchdowns overall in two games this year.
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When Ball State Has the Ball
Take everything I just said about Northern Illinois and reverse it, and you’ve got Ball State. The Cardinals are an experienced team on offense that knows how to attack and does it very well, whether with Drew Plitt’s arm or Caleb Huntley’s legs. The Cardinals are never really out of a game because their offense can score from any point on the field, and to date, only Kent State and Toledo have rolled up more total yards in the MAC than they have.
Huntley was huge for Ball State against Eastern Michigan, and his ground totals are simply ridiculous for just two games in. Huntley has averaged 167 rushing yards per game, which would rank him seventh in the MAC if that were his two-game total. At 334 yards to date, he’s over 100 yards better than his next-closest competitor, Teon Dollard of Akron.
But Plitt really makes Ball State dangerous because his presence means opponents can’t simply load up to try to stop Huntley. Doing so is inviting disaster because, in Antwan Davis and Justin Hall, Ball State has two excellent receivers that Plitt can find at any point for a big play. There is no good answer for stopping Ball State for anyone in the MAC; the only thing a team can realistically hope to do against the Cardinals is outscore them.
It’s been a long time since Ball State tasted victory over Northern Illinois in Muncie. The Cardinals haven’t beaten the Huskies at home since Brady Hoke’s final season in 2008, and that was three head coaches ago. Last season saw Ball State finally break a 10-game losing streak against Northern Illinois, a dubious decade of mostly blowouts. Northern Illinois has covered the number in seven of their past eight meetings with Ball State, including each of their past five trips to Muncie.
There’s reason to believe it can happen again because NIU has strangely been a better team away from DeKalb than it has been at home. The Huskies have covered in seven of their past eight games as a road dog and are 19-7-1 ATS in their past 27 trips away from home. Meanwhile, Ball State is still getting used to playing at home and playing as a favorite. The Cardinals are just 2-6 ATS in their past eight at Schuemann Stadium and have covered only once in their past six when favored.
If totals are more your thing, Ball State has been as sure as it gets when it comes to hitting the over. The Cardinals have hit the number in each of their past six games and in six of their past seven contests in Muncie. However, one opponent they haven’t seen come through northern Indiana in that stretch is Northern Illinois — the under has hit in each of the Huskies’ past four trips to Ball State.
Being the southernmost team in the MAC’s Western Division does come with its advantages, and once again, Ball State will get better weather than the other schools playing on Wednesday night MACtion. Winds will blow south at 15 miles an hour, but temperatures will stay well above freezing at 40 degrees.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
I can’t see how Northern Illinois is going to keep pace with Ball State here. The Cardinals’ defense hasn’t been great this year, but they’ve also played two decent opponents in Miami-Ohio and Eastern Michigan, both of whom have a more potent offense than anything Northern Illinois has shown. Ball State’s number will be around 37 points, and I think the Cardinals won’t have any problem hitting that given what NIU has demonstrated to date.
I’ll take the Cardinals in a comfortable win. Did you know that you could be risking only -105 odds instead of the -110 your bookie is sapping you with? Dump his ass and start saving big money (that you could be using to make more bets or reserve especially for parlays) at BetAnySports!
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