The Tuesday night (7:00pm ET) matchup for week ten of the 2011 college football season is a Mid-American Conference affair featuring the Northern Illinois Huskies (5-3) traveling to the Glass Bowl in Toledo, OH to take on the Rockets of Toledo (5-3) with the inside track to the MAC western Division Title at stake. NIU has won their last three games, including a 31-30 nail-biter at Buffalo their last time out when they failed to cover a 14 point line. Toledo has won four straight coming into the game, including a 49-28 victory over Miami of Ohio last week in which they covered the 16.5 point line. NIU is 3-5 ATS this season, while Toledo is 5-3 ATS.
The Huskies feature one of the better offensive units in the country, ranking 16th in scoring offense with an average of 38.5 points per game and 20th in total offense with an average of 463.2 yards per game. The running game behind dual-threat quarterback Chandler Harnish (62.8% completion percentage, 12 TDs passing, 7.9 YPC and 8 TDs rushing) ranks 11th nationally with an average of 244.1 YPG and is the strength of the NIU offense. On defense, they have not been able to stop anyone, ranking 99th in scoring defense at 32.5 PPG and 98th in total defense at 432.8 YPG allowed. Toledo ranks 20th in scoring with an average of 36.5 PPG on offense, and 28th in total offense with 439.5 YPG behind a balanced attack led by efficient QBs Austin Dantin (66.7% completion percentage, 10 TDs and 1 INT) and Terrance Owens (949 yard passing 6 TDs and 2 INTs). Defensively the Rockets rank 52nd in scoring defense with 25 PPG allowed and 45th in total defense with 363.1 YPG allowed this season.
NIU vs. Toledo Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
NIU Huskies +7.5
@Toledo Rockets -7.5
Over 67.5 (-110)
Under 67.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from BetOnline.com
NIU vs. Toledo Pick:
NIU have won two straight against the Rockets, including last season’s meeting in DeKalb, IL by a score of 65-30. The Rockets lead the series 29-9 all-time, and are 18-2 in games at home. Four of Toledo’s five wins this season have come by wide margins, including last week’s win over Miami of Ohio. The Huskies are 9-3-1 ATS in their last 13 MAC games, and 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games as an underdog. Toledo is 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games as a favorite and 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 games overall. The over is 9-4 in NIU’s last 13 games overall and 5-0 in their last 5 games in November. The over is 19-6-1 in the Rockets’ last 26 games as a home favorite and 5-1 in their last 6 home games. In head-to-head play, the Huskies are 3-9-1 ATS in the last 13 meetings between the two teams and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 meetings in Toledo.
NIU has not stopped anyone on the road this season; the Huskies have faded in the second half of their road games, particularly on defense allowing 101 points in the fourth quarter alone. They allowed a whopping 572 total yards and 404 yards passing to Buffalo in their too-close for comfort win last time out. Toledo wide receiver Eric Page (8.3 receptions per game and 166 all-purpose YPG) is the top concern on defense for the Huskies, and he should have a big day against a defense that ranks 79th among FBS teams against the pass. This should be a high-scoring game, but the total of 67.5 is just too high to bet with Toledo only 4-4 on the over/under this season. The Rockets own NIU at home over an extended period of time, and NIU quarterback Harnish is coming off of a bad game against Buffalo and is still banged up going into this game. Look for the Rockets to come after him and pour on the points against a bad NIU defense in order to avenge last season’s blowout loss. The scoring in this game could be decidedly one-sided, so we have to go with Toledo to cover at home in this one.