The Northern Illinois Huskies and Ball State Cardinals have each experienced a drop off from the loss of last season’s starting quarterbacks. For one team, however, the regression has been a bit more severe. With Jordan Lynch and Keith Wenning no longer leading their respective teams, the Huskies have decided on sophomore Drew Hare, while the Cardinals have decided on redshirt freshman Jack Milas. Two teams planning for the future should make for an exciting game in Wednesday night MACtion.
Northern Illinois vs. Ball State College Football Preview
Date/Time: Wednesday November 5, 8:00 p.m. ET
College Football Betting Odds from WagerWeb
College Football Betting Favorite: Northern Illinois -3
Rod Carey is 18-4 straight up at NIU, but he is just 11-11 against the number. The Huskies were 12-2/8-6 last season and are 6-2/3-5 this season. They started 3-0 against the number, but are on a five-game ATS losing streak. Pete Lembo, whose name is frequently brought up about bigger jobs, is now 28-18 straight up and 28-18 ATS. The Cardinals are just 1-3 ATS on their home field this season.
Northern Illinois Huskies:
After some uncertainty about who would be the starting quarterback, Drew Hare took the ball and ran with it, both literally and figuratively. Hare has posted an 11/1 TD/INT ratio through the air and has added 581 yards on just 76 carries in the running game. It appears that NIU has found another quality starter to add to the list that includes Chandler Harnish and Jordan Lynch. Running back Cameron Stingily has been playing catch up all season after an injury kept him out for the first few games, but he has 477 yards on 91 carries. The defense for the Huskies has certainly taken a step back. The team lost starting safety Jimmie Ward in the first round of the draft from a defense that allowed just 19.9 points per game. This season’s group has given up significantly more, including a disgusting defensive performance against Miami of Ohio when the Huskies gave up 41 points.
Ball State Cardinals:
Like the Huskies, the Cardinals weren’t sure who was going to replace one of the best quarterbacks in program and MAC history. Ozzie Mann was given the first shot and played well, but Lembo sees higher upside in redshirt freshman Jack Milas. Milas has struggled over his last two games, but the first-year quarterback will go through some growing pains without an experienced group of receivers. Running back Jahwan Edwards continues to be a workhorse at running back for the Cardinals with a 4.7 yards per carry average. The inconsistent offense has led to a drop off from the defense, as well as a regression in the team’s +12 turnover margin from last season. Some shorter fields and some third down troubles have kept the Cardinals defense on the field too long and points have ensued.
Free Pick: Northern Illinois Huskies -3
The Huskies have found the dual threat quarterback they needed in Drew Hare and their system offense is going to allow for more consistency than Ball State’s. Jack Milas has been inconsistent through three games and the Huskies still have one of the better defenses in the MAC because of the way that they’re able to recruit. Key turnovers will be the difference in this game and Hare has done a great job taking care of the football this season.
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