Northern Illinois Huskies
(10-2, 9-2-1 ATS)
(8-4, 7-5 ATS)
The MAC Championship will be on the line on Friday night at Ford Field, as the Miami Redhawks and Northern Illinois Huskies battle it out in NCAA football betting action.
The Huskies clearly have the top team in the MAC, and they have deservedly finally cracked the Top 25 after running the table in conference play at 8-0 SU and 7-0-1 ATS. HC Jerry Kill has a team that has already proven it can compete with some of the better teams in the country, just like the Illinois Fighting Illini, and with the way that this offense operates, we aren’t ones to say that they can’t really challenge some of the very, very best teams as well. Trying to stop the combination of QB Chandler Harnish and RB Chad Spann is simply impossible for some of these MAC teams, as these two should clearly be playing at the major college football level. Spann already has a whopping 20 rushing TDs on the season, and he is one of the few backs in the land that already has 1,200+ yards on the ground. You know that Spann is going to try to reach the 1,500 yard mark including NIU’s bowl game, and that quest starts tonight in Motown. Harnish is a huge rushing threat as well, as he has 761 yards and five scores on the ground. He has also done a fantastic job taking care of the pigskin, accounting for 1,949 yards and 17 TDs against just five INTs. There are also five other players on this team that have at least 145 rushing yards, which leaves NIU averaging over 280 yards per game on the ground.
Miami probably wasn’t the most deserving team to come out of the MAC East this year, but it’s hard to argue with the fact that it won its last four games of the season, while both the Temple Owls and Ohio Bobcats folded under the stress involved of trying to close out the division title. The Redhawks would be a lot more equipped to compete in this game if they had the services of QB Zac Dysert. Unfortunately though, he spleen injury is going to keep him out of this one and potentially out of the team’s bowl game as well. Now, a team that only averages 101.1 yards per game on the ground needs to get into a groove to help out backup QB Austin Boucher. RB Thomas Merriweather has been through a lot in his four years in Oxford, including the start of a senior campaign that was marred with an ejection, but he has come back with two very strong games at the end of his career, rumbling for 141 yards and a TD against the Akron Zips and 182 yards and a TD against the Owls.
We know that NIU has been covering everything under the sun this year, but for some reason, we tend to think that the Redhawks are hanging around in this one. They are a solid squad with a stingy defense, and considering the fact that there were two weeks to prepare for this game and not just one like NIU had, we’ll graciously take all of the points given to us.
MAC Championship Game Free Pick: Miami Redhawks +18