Northern Illinois vs. Coastal Carolina Prediction ATS 12/17/21
Northern Illinois Huskies (9-4 SU, 8-4-1 ATS) vs. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (10-2 SU, 6-6 ATS)
When: Friday, December 17, 6 p.m.
Where: Exploria Stadium, Orlando, Fla.
Point Spread: NIU +10/CCU -10 (MyBookie - Deposit $100 and get $100 FREE when you use bonus code PREDICT100 on the registration page!)
Total: O/U 62.5
This could be an intriguing second bowl game, as the MAC champions from Northern Illinois go up against what might have been the most talented team in the Sun Belt had it been able to stay healthy. Coastal fell short of the Sun Belt title game by losing to Appalachian State, and the Chanticleers then had to deal with losing Grayson McCall to injury against Troy at the end of October. McCall is back on the field but hasn’t really looked quite right since coming back, as the Chanticleers struggled with South Alabama before winning in overtime.
Almost nobody expected Northern Illinois to get to this point after the Huskies went 0-6 in the shortened MAC season of 2020, but the Huskies have made their living on tight games all year long. Out of eight wins against FBS competition, seven were decided by eight points or less, with the lone exception coming in their MAC title win against Kent State. The only team the Huskies really couldn’t hang with all year was Michigan, which proved a much better loss than anyone expected when the Wolverines smashed them back in September. Otherwise, NIU has hung tough with an offense that can both run and pass successfully and will change up its strategy at will, depending on what each game requires. With the way these teams have finished the year, this game looks like it might be a bit too high.
How the Public is Betting the Northern Illinois/Coastal Carolina Game
The public believes in the Huskies, but the sharps do not. Sharps have pushed the number up from -9.5 to -10 for Coastal, despite 69 percent of tickets coming in on the Huskies. The total has dropped a point, falling from 63.5 to 62.5.
Wide receiver Tyrice Richie (foot) is questionable. Running back Harrison Waylee (arm) and safety Devin Lafayette (leg) are out.
Tight end Xavier Gravette (undisclosed) is questionable. Running back Reese White (ankle) is out.
When Northern Illinois Has the Ball
The biggest question for Northern Illinois is how the Huskies choose to attack the Coastal defense because NIU coach Thomas Hammock has proven that above anything else, he’s willing to adjust his strategy to his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. Case in point, in the Huskies’ first game against Kent State, Rocky Lombardi set a school record for passing yards, and Trayvon Rudolph topped 300 receiving yards, but that backfired on Northern Illinois because it meant the Huskies’ offense wasn’t on the field long enough to keep Kent State from scoring, resulting in a 52-47 loss.
Hammock learned from that and opted for a ball-control approach in the rematch, keeping Kent State’s offense off the field. With Coastal’s attack presenting similar problems, NIU might try the same thing a second time. The Huskies probably can’t stop Grayson McCall, but the Chanticleers might not be able to stop Jay Ducker either, and if NIU can keep the ball on the ground and keep the clock moving, McCall might not get the chance to hurt the Northern Illinois defense.
When Northern Illinois does pass, Trayvon Rudolph has emerged as a top threat to stretch the field, but he’s not likely to get opportunities in this game unless the Huskies go behind early. Northern Illinois ran 61 times against 15 passes against Kent State, and the odds are that the Huskies try for a similar “balance” this time to keep Coastal’s offense on the sidelines.
When Coastal Carolina Has the Ball
The biggest question about Grayson McCall is how healthy is he? When McCall is operating at peak efficiency, so is the Coastal offense, but ever since he got hurt in the Troy game, the Chanticleers have been off. Shermari Jones came up big in the win over South Alabama, and given how weak the Northern Illinois run defense is, he’s likely to get a good chunk of the carries, with Braydon Bennett and Reese White also receiving some action.
But the big question is whether the Northern Illinois secondary can stay with Jaivon Heiligh and Isaiah Likely, who have combined for 1,850 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns on the season. Kent State tried to go for the deep shot early against Northern Illinois in the MAC title game and found it available several times, but the Flashes were off on their passing multiple times and couldn’t get the score they needed to change the game. If Coastal scores early, it will be able to dictate the tempo for the rest of the game. If not, the Chanticleers might have difficulty staying on the field.
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These teams have never met before, but there’s one trend that Northern Illinois certainly would like to reverse here: the Huskies are 0-6 straight up and ATS in their past six bowl games. Northern Illinois has had to play a pair of ACC squads in Florida State and Duke in that stretch, but the Huskies have also played some Group of 5 opponents and mostly haven’t come anywhere close to a win. Out of NIU’s past six bowl appearances, only Utah State managed to win by less than this spread.
Coastal has its own slide to worry about, as the Chanticleers are 1-5 ATS in their past six games overall. Coastal has gone 11-4 ATS in its last 15 against non-Sun Belt foes, but that’s also because they had a fully healthy McCall under center for those contests. That’s not the case this time, which could open the door for an NIU cover.
This is the kind of weather you’re supposed to get for a bowl game, as temperatures will sit at 60 degrees on a clear night in Orlando. Wind will blow at six miles per hour heading northeast.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
Northern Illinois is used to playing tight games, and Coastal just hasn’t been itself as of late. The Chanticleers are the better team and should extend the bowl losing streak to seven for the Huskies, but I just don’t trust Coastal to cover this kind of number, not after the skid the Chanticleers have suffered to close out this season. I’m taking Northern Illinois plus the points in this one. Question: Did you know that you can bet on games at a reduced price? Read more about betting on games at discounted odds and start maximizing your sports betting dollar! You worked hard for it! Be smart with it!