Western Michigan Broncos (6-4 SU, 6-4 ATS) vs. Northern Illinois Huskies (7-3 SU, 6-2-2 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date/Time: Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 8:00 pm EST
Where: Huskie Stadium, DeKalb, Ill.
TV: ESPN2, DirecTV 209
by Badger, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: WMU +3/NIU -3
Over/Under Total: 61
First place in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) West division wont be settled until after Thanksgiving, but the winner of Wednesdays Western Michigan Broncos versus Northern Illinois Huskies MACtion battle inside Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, Ill., will put themselves in the drivers seat to be the MAC Wests representative in the title game in December.
The Broncos and Huskies both enter the Wednesday night primetime showdown with one loss in conference and once again find themselves stuck in another three-team tie atop the MAC West standings with Toledo. The Broncos control their own destiny, with their finale next week against Toledo. But its a heck of a gauntlet the Broncos will have to run considering they lost last week to the MAC East champion Bowling Green Falcons, 41-27. If the Broncos can just win the last two games of three straight games against first-place teams the MAC West is theirs.
Despite losing their starting quarterback Drew Hare a few weeks ago, the Huskies have no intentions of giving away the MAC West title theyve held for the past five years. Northern Illinois just keeps plugging along and winning no matter who is playing, notching their fifth straight victory last week in a, 41-30, victory over Buffalo on the road. Already sitting with a victory over Toledo and the remaining two games of the schedule at home in DeKalb, the Huskies have to love the position they are in going into the Wednesday night showdown with the Broncos.
With so much on the line, oddsmakers took the easy way out by setting the opening point spread with Northern Illinois a the standard: 3-point favorite the home team typically gets for being the home team. With only a few days for the market to move the number, it hasnt moved too much too fast as public bettors are heavy on the Huskies in the beginning which has caused a few sportsbooks to go up to minus -3.5. The over/under total opened at 61 at the sportsbooks that have already listed a total for Wednesdays game.
This game will feature two of the MACs more prolific offenses, although the obvious difference is that the Huskies are now forced to do it the rest of the way with a freshman quarterback in Ryan Graham. Graham was pretty good in his first effort as the Huskies starter last week, throwing 15-for-24 for 190 yards and a score (1 INT) and adding 78 yards rushing in the victory over Buffalo. Running back Joel Bouagnon helped out a little, running for 156 yards and two scores, but it was Grahams first real test as Huskies starter and he sure looked up to the task.
Of course the Huskies will have to score plenty of points because the Broncos and QB Zach Terrell are ranked 23rd in the country in both offensive yardage (486 ypg) and points per game at 36.9. The big difference is that the Huskies can play a little defense, specifically in the secondary where they only allow 228 yards a game, so Terrell and the Broncos attack will have to earn it in the air.
Its no secret the Huskies have owned the MAC and specifically the MAC West for awhile now, so it should come as no surprise that Northern Illinois has won six straight games against the Broncos including last years 31-21 victory in Kalamazoo. If six straight SU wins isnt enough for you, the Huskies are also a strong wager going 4-1-1 over the same six-game stretch as well and 6-1 ATS in their last seven meetings inside Huskie Stadium in DeKalb.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Like most well-coached, strong college football programs the Huskies just seem to get better each week. If you would have asked me if Northern Illinois would have been within a sniff of first place after their third loss of the season in the MAC opener at Central Michigan in early October I would have asked you to take a drug test. But here we are two weeks away from the finale and Northern Illinois is sitting in perfect position to do it again. I drank the kool aid Im taking Northern Illinois minus the points.
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