God bless #MACtion. Thanks to the Mid-American Conference, we’re in the sweet spot of the football season with games every day through the Thanksgiving weekend. There are four more MACtion games this week, but the one that we’ll focus on features the former class of the conference against one of the conference’s most surprising up-and-comers. That is the Wednesday night matchup in Ypsilanti between the host Eastern Michigan Eagles and the visiting Northern Illinois Huskies.
Northern Illinois vs. Eastern Michigan College Football Preview
Date/Time: Wednesday November 16, 8:00 p.m. ET
College Football Betting Odds from 5Dimes
College Football Betting Favorite: Northern Illinois -3
For the first time in five years, Northern Illinois will not win the MAC West. For the first time since 2008, Northern Illinois will not make a bowl game. Coming out of what has become a rivalry game against Toledo, how will the Huskies get fired up for this one? NIU is just 3-7 straight up and 4-5-1 against the spread. The Huskies started 0-4 SU and ATS and they are 4-1-1 ATS since losing at home to Western Illinois. Eastern Michigan has been a cash cow for college football bettors. The Eagles are 6-4 straight up and 8-2 against the number with one of the most improved offenses in the country. They had a six-game ATS streak snapped by Miami of Ohio on October 29, but may have started a new one with last week’s outright upset over Ball State.
Northern Illinois Huskies:
The Huskies will go back to Ryan Graham for a second straight week after interim quarterback Anthony Maddie suffered a season-ending injury. That’s now two Huskies quarterbacks that have been lost for the season. The Huskies lost Drew Hare in mid-September and that set off a snowball effect of ineptitude. NIU is still 3-3 in the MAC, but this is a team that used to eat MAC defenses like they were Reese’s Pieces. In conference, the Huskies are still +7 in point differential and have racked up nearly 484 yards of offense. Graham is just 65-of-117 for 622 yards with an 8/6 TD/INT ratio this year. He’ll rely heavily on Joel Bouagnon, who has 4.9 yards per carry, and Kenny Golladay, who has over 1,000 yards receiving. The biggest loss with Maddie out is that he ran for 6.8 yards per carry on his 82 attempts. Graham is a running threat, but not as much of one.
The Huskies defense is the biggest reason why the team has fallen off. Since Rod Carey took over for Dave Doeren in 2013, the Huskies have allowed 25.1, 25.6, 27.6, and now 31.9 points per game. The offensive system almost seems plug-and-play with a mobile quarterback, but the defense has really fallen off this season. To be fair, the Huskies are only allowing 26.8 points per conference game, but that’s still on par with last year’s 27 points allowed per conference matchup. Those are not numbers that NIU was putting up in the past. The Huskies have allowed 5.9 yards per play, the highest for them in close to a decade. It’s a tough spot for NIU with nothing to play for except pride in these last two games.
Eastern Michigan Eagles:
The Eagles were extremely excited about getting bowl eligible, but it’s definitely in the team’s best interest to win another game. Six wins is a precarious number for a MAC team that has wins over teams like Mississippi Valley State, Charlotte, and Bowling Green. The win over Wyoming might be impressive enough to get EMU to a bowl, but a 40-point loss to Missouri isn’t great. Either way, Chris Creighton has done a phenomenal job with this program. Brogan Roback has thrown for 1,855 yards and 13 touchdown passes in his action this season. The EMU running game is averaging four yards per carry which is actually down a decent amount from last season, but leading rusher Darius Jackson moved on with his football career. Home run hitter Shaq Vann was lost for the season against Missouri, so EMU’s rushing attack has been more about grinding it out.
The Eagles defense can be beaten. In conference games so far, Eastern Michigan has allowed 475 yards per game and they’ve given up over 32 points. The Eagles have struggled to stop Western Michigan, Miami of Ohio, and Ball State over the last three weeks. This is a team that may simply be getting tired. There’s not a whole lot of depth on this roster and it’s starting to show. Stopping the run is the key to this game and the Eagles have been a little bit better at doing that than they have been against the pass. After winning seven games over the last four seasons combined, EMU has a chance to win seven or more games this season.
Free College Football Pick: Eastern Michigan +3
The Eagles are not the better team here in this spot, but they are the motivated team with something to play for and that means something here. The Huskies just lost a heartbreaker to Toledo in a game that would have given them a shot at bowl eligibility by winning out. It’s tough to see NIU getting off the deck as a team that has beaten EMU 49-21, 28-17, 59-20, and 49-7 over the last four seasons. They are definitely the better team, so we’re betting on a bad effort. Motivation is big at this time of the season.
Kyle Hunter went 7-2 last Saturday in college football and is 61-26 (70%) in his last 87 totals selections. Grab ALL of his college football and NFL totals for just $300 for the rest of the season. Want college hoops? Get all NCAA BB totals for the season for $400. Contact Kyle- Email kyle@huntersportspicks.