Toledo Rockets (6-3 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. Northern Illinois Huskies (7-2
SU, 6-2-1 ATS), Week 11 NCAA Football, 7:00 p.m. EST, Tuesday,
November 9, 2010, Husky Stadium, Dekalb, Ill., TV: ESPN2
by Badger of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Tol +11.5/N. Illinois -11.5
Over/Under Total: TBA
The West Division of the Mid-American Conference will be up for grabs
Tuesday night in front of a nation-wide audience on ESPN2 when the
Toledo Rockets travel to Dekalb, Illinois, to face the Northern
Illinois Huskies in Huskie Stadium.
Both teams enter the showdown at 5-0 in MAC play, so the winner will
put a stranglehold on the division with only two weeks remaining in
the regular season.
Toledo enters the game riding a three-game win streak, including a
42-7 stomp over Eastern Michigan in their last action (Oct. 30th),
but they will face steep odds literally and figuratively since
Northern Illinois has rattled off six straight wins and has quietly
become one of the hottest teams in the country.
Plus the Huskies, who continued their streak with a 28-21 victory on
the road at Western Michigan their last time out (also on the 30th),
must play their final two conference games on the road at Ball State
and Eastern Michigan, so theyll be hyped up to assume the role of
the drivers seat in front of the home crowd in DeKalb on Tuesday.
Those steep odds I mentioned earlier that the Rockets face, well most
sportsbooks opened the game with Northern Illinois as 11.5-point favorites. The point spread is still less than 24 hours old, so it
hasnt had enough time to move in either direction yet.
As of press time the over/under total and the moneyline bets have yet
to be released.
This game will all hinge on the ability of Toledo to stop the power
running attack of Northern Illinois on offense.
Running back Chad Spann has already gone over 1,000 yards this season
(111 ypg), and when combined with quarterback Chandler Harnish the
Huskies run for over 243 yards per game, a total that leads the MAC
and is 11th in the country.
What separates the Huskies this season is Harnishs ability to pass
the ball of play-action, throwing for over 1,400 yards and 12
touchdowns to help the Huskies stand at the front of the MAC in
scoring offense at 30.7 points per game. Its the Huskies ability to
pass when needed that has allowed them to lead the MAC in 3rd-down
efficiency, converting at an astounding 51.6 percent clip.
The Toledo defense does offer up a little bit of a challenge for the
powerful Northern Illinois attack, since they do lead the MAC in
turnover margin (+9) and also lead the MAC in defensive 3rd-down
efficiency at 35.8 percent. But its going to take a total team
effort because Northern Illinois is also the least penalized team in
the MAC and is second to the Rockets in turnover margin (+7), so they
havent been beating themselves this season.
Another huge question for the Rockets in this game is how well will
freshman quarterback Terrance Owens play in just his third game and
first start since starter Austin Dantin hurt his shoulder last week
against Eastern Michigan.
Owens was incredibly effective in relief of Dantin (10-of-15, 234
yards, 4 TD) against the weak Eagle defense, but Northern Illinois
also features the MACs 2nd-ranked scoring defense (only 17.5 ppg –
16th in NCAA), so the test will certainly be much tougher. I expect
the Huskies to throw everything and the kitchen sink at the young
Owens, stacking the box to take away Adonis Thomas and the rest of
the Rocket running game in order to make Owens beat them with his arm
and his decision making.
As if the Huskies need any extra motivation for Tuesdays huge MAC
clash, theyll also have the angle of redemption to feed on to give
them an added edge. Toledo has owned the series versus the Huskies
over the years, going 8-2 SU since 2000 and also 9-2-1 ATS in their
last 12 meetings on the gridiron.
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Northern Illinois did win the last time they played in Huskie Stadium
in 2008, covering as 8-point favorites with a 38-7 victory, but that
is the exception to the rule. The Rockets have won and covered in the
previous four games in Dekalb.
The underdog is also 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings, so the
Rockets certainly have most of the betting trends pointing in their
The under also has some strong trends working for it. The under is
2-1-1 in the last four games in Dekalb in the series, but its also
15-6-1 in the Huskies last 22 home games at Huskie Stadium and 6-2-1
in the Huskies last nine games following a bye.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Spread: With a freshman getting his first start against a
tough Huskies defense, on the road, in the MACs biggest game of the
year so far I just dont see the Rockets having enough offense to
stay in this game against those odds. Im on the Huskies here to
bring the title home. Take Northern Illinois minus the 11.5 points.