NCAA Football Betting Favorite: Northern Illinois -4
The Mid-American Conference has garnered a lot of attention on ESPN during the workweek this year. High scoring games have been the norm in this league, and defense has been optional. Ohio won the MAC East and Northern Illinois won the MAC West. Both teams enter with a 9-3 record. The two division champions will square off at Ford Field in the MAC Championship Game this Friday night.
Ohio comes into this game as winners of five straight games. The Bobcats offense has benefited greatly from the great play of quarterback Tyler Tettleton. Tettleton has thrown 26 touchdowns and just seven interceptions this year. The Bobcats have three players who have over 100 carries this year. Tettleton averages 4.2 yards per carry, and he is a much better runner than most give him credit for being. Donte Hardin and Ryan Boykin split time in the Ohio backfield. One of the reasons this offense has been so successful this year is the fact that they stay so balanced. Ohio has the ability to move the ball both through the air and on the ground.
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The Bobcats has been pretty good in 2011. The front seven generally does a nice job limiting opponents on the ground. The secondary has been picked apart by some quarterbacks this year, but they do a nice job of picking off passes at the right time. Travis Carrie leads the team with four interceptions. Can this front seven hold up against the strong running game of Northern Illinois?
The Huskies of Northern Illinois are no stranger to the MAC Championship game. Northern Illinois went into last year’s conference title game as an 18.5 point favorite, but the team was upended by Miami (Ohio). Chandler Harnish leads another talented team into Detroit, and you can bet this team will be looking for redemption from last year’s loss. Harnish is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country. Harnish averages an amazing 7.9 yards per carry, and he has 11 rushing touchdowns. He also has thrown for 23 touchdowns and 2,692 yards. Jasmin Hopkins teams up with Harnish to form a very nice running duo in the backfield. The true strength of this offense is its running game, but they can beat you passing it as well.
The Northern Illinois defense has dropped off a bit from last year. Three linebackers who were expected to be key contributors have missed significant time this year, and that has definitely hurt this unit. The Huskies are giving up 32 points per game this year. They have allowed 38 points or more on five different occasions this year.
The Huskies should be very motivated to prove last year’s loss was a fluke. Northern Illinois has the best player on the field in Harnish. I like the Huskies to win and cover here.
Free College Football Pick: Northern Illinois/Ohio Over
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