The top Tuesday night (8:00pm ET) game in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) this week features the Huskies of Northern Illinois (6-3) traveling to Bowling Green, KY to take on the Falcons of Bowling Green (4-5) in primetime. The Huskies defeated MAC-rival Toledo on the road last week in another Tuesday-night affair, a 63-60 shootout in a game in which they were 9 point underdogs. Bowling Green lost at Kent St. by a score of 27-15 in their last game on October 29 when they were favored by 3.5 point going into the game. NIU is 4-5 ATS this season, while Bowling Green is 5-4 ATS so far in 2011.
The NIU offense led by dual-threat quarterback Chandler Harnish, who ranks as the Huskies’ leading rusher (871 yards) in addition to throwing for 18 touchdowns and 1,962 yards, ranks 10th among FBS teams in scoring with 41.2 points per game and 16th in total offense with 470.9 yards per contest. The Huskies have been involved in quite a few shootouts because their defense is among the worst in the nation, ranking 109th in scoring defense with 35.6 PPG allowed and 103rd in total defense with 450.1 YPG surrendered. The Falcons’ offense has averaged 26 PPG (72nd among FBS teams) and 397.6 YPG (58th among FBS teams) with an attack that relies heavily on the passing of quarterback Matt Schilz (2,301 yards, 19 TDs and 10 INTs). The defense has been susceptible to the run, allowing an average of 190.8 YPG (90th among FBS teams) while ranking 66th in points allowed with an average of 27.1 per game.
Northern Illinois vs. Bowling Green Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Northern Illinois Huskies -5.5
@Bowling Green Falcons +5.5
Over 65.5 (-110)
Under 65.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bodog.com <– Get 10% of your 1st deposit FREE
Northern Illinois vs. Bowling Green Pick:
Northern Illinois is 10-3-1 ATS in their last 14 MAC games and 14-6-1 ATS in their last 21 games overall. Bowling Green is 10-22 AST in their last 32 home games and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games against a team with a winning record. The over is 9-4 in the Huskies’ last 13 road games and 10-4 in their last 14 games overall. The over is 6-2 in the Falcons’ last 8 games overall and the under is 7-3 in their last 10 MAC games. Their last meeting came in 2008 when the Falcons lost 16-13 at NIU to cover as 7 point underdogs.
The key matchup in this game for the NIU Huskies is the running game with QB Chandler Harnish and running back Jasmin Hopkins (667 yards rushing, 12 TDs) that ranks 9th in the nation with 246.7 YPG, against the 90th-ranked rush defense of Bowling Green. Harnish and company should be able to have their way with the Falcons upfront and control the time of possession and the ball with their potent rushing attack. NUI showed tremendous balance in their attack last week against Toledo, rushing for 267 yards and throwing for 265 against a Rockets defense that was much tougher against the run, allowing 133 yards and change per game. Harnish is a very efficient passer as well, with 18 TDs against only 4 interceptions and a 63.1% completion rate, so the Falcons will have to respect his ability to thrown and will not be able to load up to stop the run. Bowling Green will score points against a weak NIU defense, but their offense is somewhat one-dimensional and has not been clicking lately with an average of 14 PPG in their last two games. Take NIU to cover on the road as the Huskies have scored over 40 points in 5 of their last 6 games and should easily outscore the Falcons with a comparable effort here.