Northern Illinois-Western Michigan Clash Leads Tuesday MACtion Double Play

Rainman M.

Monday, November 19, 2018 1:28 PM UTC

Monday, Nov. 19, 2018 1:28 PM UTC

Get the latest college football picks on MAC games. Miami hosts Ball State and Western Michigan hosts Northern Illinois on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET. Bet Confident with SBRpicks.com.

Northern Illinois (7-4 SU, 6-5 ATS) at Western Michigan (6-5 SU, 3-8 ATS)Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)Free NCAAF Pick: Huskies ATSBest Lines Offered: Pinnacle

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Clinching bowl eligibility meant a lot to Western Michigan. After losing two games in a row, it won its next six and more than quadrupled the spread in the clincher against Central Michigan. But since them, the Broncos have been suffering a prolonged emotional letdown. They’ve failed to cover their last three games and it hasn’t even been close. They missed the spread by 27 points against Toledo, by 41.5 against Ohio, and lost to Ball State as 10-point favorites. Overall, Western Michigan is 1-6 ATS in its last seven games and 0-4-1 ATS in its last five at home against the Huskies.

Match-up wise, Western Michigan offers a solid opportunity for the Huskies to bounce back. They lost their first MAC game against Miami of Ohio and, having nonetheless clinched the MAC West, they will want to regain momentum before heading to the MAC Title Game on November 30. Western Michigan’s offense is predicated on its run game, especially with freshman backup quarterback Kaleb Elsby taking over for the injured Jon Wassink. The Broncos run the ball with the 27th-highest frequency. The Huskies, however, rank fourth nationally in opposing yards per carry. Led by 2017 MAC Defensive Player of the Year Sutton Smith, they limit their opponents to 2.7 YPC per game. Western Michigan’s rush attack has largely been untested. The closest thing to a good run defense that it has faced was Miami of Ohio on September 29. Miami ranks 44th in opposing YPC and limited Western Michigan to 3.3 YPC on 37 carries. Every other MAC opponent that Western Michigan has faced ranks outside the top 70 in opposing YPC. The Broncos also faced Michigan’s elite defense early in the year and was blown out 49-3. Western Michigan is 0-2 ATS against top-50 run defenses.

The Huskies also like to run the ball. It ranks 36th in run play frequency. Tre Harbison and Marcus Jones both average over 5.5 YPC. The run-blocking shows its solidity in several statistical categories. For instance, it has the 13th-best stuff rate, meaning that it allows its running back to be stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage at a rate lower than every other offensive line besides 12. It will have an easy time gashing Western Michigan’s 94th-ranked run defense in terms of opposing YPC. The Broncos’ struggles are unsurprising given the loss of experience that they suffered at linebacker including a MAC Second-teamer and Third-teamer. On the flip side, NIU’s success was predictable because it returned 111 career starts at offensive line, including MAC First-teamer Max Scharping.


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Congratulations to Max on his invitation to this years @seniorbowl! This is a BIG deal and he has certainly earned the recognition and the opportunity. #theHardWay pic.twitter.com/YyKhODxhbG

— Rod Carey (@niucoachcarey) 15. November 2018
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Ball State (4-7 SU, 5-6 ATS) at Miami-Ohio (5-6 SU, 7-4 ATS)Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)Free NCAAF Pick: RedHawks ATS (Parlay With Huskies)

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No spread has been made available for this game because Ball State quarterback Riley Neal is still listed as "questionable" and it is undetermined whether he will play against Miami-Ohio. Whether he plays or not, I recommend parlaying the Huskies’ ATS pick with the RedHawks ML for added value. Miami-Ohio needs one more win for bowl eligibility. This team is on a mission, having upset two of the MAC’s best teams in Ohio and Northern Illinois in its last two games. Besides, Ball State is 1-12 SU in its last 13 road games, the one win coming against lowly Central Michigan.

Miami’s defense has stepped up, particularly by limiting the opposing quarterback. Against Ohio, Miami limited one of the MAC’s best quarterbacks in Nathan Rourke to a season-low in yards per attempt. It seemed like, on almost every play, Rourke was standing in the pocket, looking but not finding a receiver to throw to. He mustered 163 pass yards on 27 pass attempts and failed to complete 60 percent of his passes for the second time in conference play — the other time being in a blowout victory. So, if Neal does play, he’ll have nothing to play for but to shake off his rust while facing a well-tested and highly motivated Miami defense. His backup, Drew Plitt, has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns on the season. In terms of rushing support, Ball State’s running back has mustered more than 4.2 YPC only once in conference play.

The RedHawks aren’t known for rushing the ball. But every team is known for running against Ball State, which ranks 117th in opposing run play frequency because it allows five yards per carry, which ranks 101st. Besides, Miami boasts one of the conference’s top quarterbacks in Gus Ragland, who is completing 60 percent of his passes and has thrown 16 touchdowns to four interceptions. He ranks third in the conference in passing yards and has achieved a solid passer rating against the more highly-ranked secondaries within the conference like Buffalo and Akron, both of which are top-40 in opposing passer rating. Ball State ranks 68th in the category.

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