The Quick Lane Bowl, formerly known as the Little Caesars Bowl, formerly known as the Motor City Bowl, is our second bowl game on the docket on Boxing Day. Ford Field welcomes the Duke Blue Devils of the ACC and Northern Illinois Huskies of the MAC. The Ohio Bobcats showed up for the MAC, but Akron and Toledo were pasted by their opponents.
We’ll see what kind of Northern Illinois team we get on Monday. The Huskies enter at 8-4, probably wish they got a better bowl destination. Ohio got to go to the Bahamas with a similar record, and Northern Illinois were pegged to go to Ford Field in Detroit. On the positive, there won’t be as many distractions here than there would in the Bahamas.
It didn’t seem to bother Ohio, though, as they routed UAB by a score of 41-6. The Huskies will face stiffer competition in the Blue Devils on Monday afternoon. Duke went 6-6, closing the year with two wins in a row to become bowl eligible. It wasn’t an ideal year for Duke, they hoped for much better results, but they have to be happy with the way they finished.
After six losses in a row, Duke could have packed it in and gave up, but they rallied to get an extra game. Head coach, David Cutcliffe, who is always highly regarded, did a nice job rallying the troops to get them to the Quick Lane Bowl. Their 43-20 win over Georgia Tech was particularly impressive, and then they finished the regular season up with a 31-23 win over Wake Forest.
The Blue Devils are one of those teams who aren’t at the bottom of the ACC, but they aren’t at the top either. They always fluctuate between good and bad. When you fluctuate between good and bad that usually results in a bowl game like the Quick Lane Bowl. I can’t ever envision them unseating the likes of Florida State and Miami in the conference, but given what they have to work with in recruiting, Duke is doing just fine. Head below for our free Duke vs. Northern Illinois pick.
Duke Blue Devils vs. Northern Illinois Huskies Betting Odds:
vs. Northern Illinois +5.5(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Duke vs. Northern Illinois Pick:
The Quick Lane Bowl has actually produced some exciting, tight games. Nine of the last ten have been decided by less than a touchdown. So, the bowl committee is certainly getting it right with picking a couple of teams who will make it a close game throughout. The Huskies are led by a beast on the defensive side of the ball.
Sutton Smith is a load to handle, and can disrupt any offense. He led the nation with 14 sacks and 28.5 tackles for a loss. Western Michigan and Boston College had no answer for him, as he made five stops behind the line of scrimmage in each game. As a team, they’re 1st with regards to tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The Northern Illinois defense gave up 62 points in their last two games, but I think they’ll look much better with the extra rest. They were just starting to get tired at the end of the year.
The Duke offense was on a nice little run to finish the year, with 74 points scored between their last two games against 43 against Georgia Tech and 31 against Wake Forest. They were absolutely inept up to that point, as they scored only 12.1 points per game in the previous six games.
Daniel Jones has been erratic at quarterback. He feels more at home when he’s running the ball, because Jones has been hit and miss through the air with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Huskies finished 18th in the FBS with just 328 yards allowed per game. Duke are 100th in tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
This is the mismatch that Northern Illinois should be able to take advantage of. At the very least, the defense should keep this game close. Marcus Childers has been steady with 15 touchdowns and 5 interceptions for the Huskies. He also has 459 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns on the ground. Childers will limit the mistakes to allow his defense to frustrate Daniel Jones. I’d take a look at the points in the Quick Lane Bowl.