Ohio Bobcats (7-4 SU, 7-4 ATS) vs. Northern Illinois Huskies (8-3 SU, 7-2-2 ATS)
College Football Week 13
Date/Time: Tuesday, November 24, 2015, 7:30 pm EST
Where: Huskie Stadium, DeKalb, Ill.
TV: ESPNU, DirecTV 208
by Badger, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OHIO +13/NIU -13
Over/Under Total: OFF
The Ohio Bobcats can be a huge spoiler for the Northern Illinois Huskies in Tuesday night Mid-American Conference MACtion this week, since a win would earn the Huskies the ultimate prize of the MAC West title on senior night in DeKalb and a game against Bowling Green in the MAC Championship on December 4th in Detroit.
Currently sitting tied with Toledo atop the MAC West standings, the Huskies would win the title by virtue of their head-to-head victory over the Rockets back in early November, 32-27. Last week the Huskies eliminated the Western Michigan Broncos from title contention when they beat the Broncos head-to-head at home inside Huskie Stadium, 27-19. For Northern Illinois its literally been a next-man-in season as QB Ryan Graham continues to perform solid in the absence of starter Drew Hare, and coach Rod Carey has the Huskies right back in line for their sixth straight MAC West crown.
The Bobcats are on a mini two-game win streak of their own, winning last week, 48-31, over Ball State in the final home game of the season. Its strange, but Ohio under coach Frank Solich seem to always have a knack for playing really good against teams in these spoiler spots. Just how close the Bobcats can come to springing the upset on Tuesday will determine exactly how long viewers will continue to tune in to the ESPNU telecast in the final MACtion game of 2015.
Oddsmakers opened this game with Northern Illinois as 13-point favorites, and after a short 24 hours of the point spread being live the number has only really moved up the hook to Huskies minus -13.5 at a few sportsbooks. For the most part the -13 has held, but it may creep up to the two touchdown mark before kickoff on Tuesday.
As mentioned, the Huskies have continued to roll despite losing Hare in the aforementioned victory over Toledo. Graham has performed well in the Huskies option attack and has shown a good ability to read the defense in the running game.Ohio has at times struggled to stop the run, and they allowed Ball State to rack up 421 total yards last week so the Huskies pose a stiff challenge for the Bobcats defense.
Ohio offense will be challenged to move the ball against a Huskies defense that is peaking at the right time. Northern Illinois is only a +5 in turnover margin (36th in FBS), but they do tend to pick the perfect situations to create turnovers including two in their win over Western Michigan last week, so Ohio will have to protect the football in order to come away with the upset.
Ohio is actually the one team the Huskies have struggled with during their six year run at the top of the MAC West and MAC overall, beating the Huskies five out of the last eight head-to-head meetings. Northern Illinois won, 21-14, last season in Athens, and in 2011 in DeKalb (23-20), but both games were close and hard-fought enough that nobody along the Huskies sideline will be looking past Tuesday night.
Its because the Bobcats always play the Huskies tough that they are 4-1 ATS in the last fie meetings. The road team is also 5-1 ATS and the Huskies have struggled to cover the point spread when playing in these midweek MACtion games going 2-5 ATS on Tuesdays over the past two years.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: If this game were on the road in Athens, Id be all over the Bobcats here to spring the straight up upset. But even so, Ohio seems to have the ability to rise up in these spoiler games and 13 is an awfully big number to chase even for the Northern Illinois dynasty. The Huskies will win, but I dont think its going to be so easy. Im taking Ohio plus the points.
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