Northern Illinois threw a scare into top ranked Ohio State in a 20-13 loss last week, but that now puts the Huskies in a prime letdown spot visiting a great Boston College defense.
This should be a prime letdown spot Saturday for the team that nearly set the college football world on its ear last week as those Northern Illinois Huskies (2-1, 2-1 ATS), fresh off of a narrow 20-13 loss to number one Ohio State at Columbus, now pay a visit to the stout defense of the Boston College Eagles (2-1, 1-2 ATS) at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, MA at 1:00 ET in a game available on ESPN3.
The point spread at Bet365 has Boston College as a moderate home favorite for this contest with the current line at -4½ with odds of -110.
Did Buckeyes Take Huskies Lightly?
Now, there is probably very little doubt that the Buckeyes took Northern Illinois for granted last week and the Huskies came very close to making Ohio State pay. However, it must be said that five Ohio State turnovers also contributed to the closeness of the game as Northern Illinois in fact generated only 190 total yards of offense, so the Ohio State sloppiness helped make the Huskies the winning college football picks vs. the 34-point spread.
Many did not know what to expect from a Boston College team that returned just nine starters from a year ago, but so far the results have been mostly positive and downright excellent on the defensive end of the ball. The Eagles did take a hit last week though when sophomore starting quarterback Darius Wade was lost for the season to a broken ankle, but it was not as if the youngster was putting up mind-boggling stats that cannot be replaced.
Top Ranked Eagles Defense
Now, if you go solely by raw statistics, then Boston College would have the best defense in the country right now as the Eagles lead the nation in total defense, rushing defense and passing defense while ranking second in scoring defense allowing 5.7 points per game. We get however that Boston College does not really have nation’s best defense as those stats are padded by two FCS wins over Maine 24-3 and Howard 76-0.
However and perhaps most importantly, the Eagles did acquit themselves well defensively with a major leap in class vs. an undefeated nationally ranked team in a 14-0 loss to Florida State last week.
Boston College held the Seminoles to just 217 total yards while allowing only 3.0 yards per rush and 5.0 yards per pass attempt, as well as just one offensive touchdown as the second FSU score came on a defensive fumble return. Thus, while the Eagles do not have the best defense in the land like the stats say, their defense is still legitimate and there has not been much drop-off with all the new faces from a defense that was fifth in the country in total defense last season.
The bigger concerns are on offense after the Eagles had things so easily vs. inferior foes the first two weeks, but remember Florida State has a great defense in its own right. The Eagles should improve vs. the lesser Northern Illinois defense, and keep in mind that although they were shut out by the Seminoles, they did rush for a respectable 139 yards in that contest and they should continue to run well on a Huskies’ defense that allowed 162 rushing yards to the Buckeyes.
What Does UNI Do for an Encore?
The Huskies certainly put forth a game effort in Columbus, but again, that contest may not have been as competitive as it was if not for the five Ohio State turnovers, and the Buckeyes did out-gain the Huskies by 108 yards. Regardless, the Huskies are probably feeling very good about themselves right now, and that may backfire here as they may have a false sense of security while going up against a defense that could manhandle them as well as Ohio State did.
Thus, the key for Northern Illinois in this game could be the performance of the defense, a unit ranked 75th in the nation while allowing 388.0 yards per game. We could easily see the Boston College offense controlling this game with its rushing attack, and as long as the Eagles do not turn the ball over five times like the Buckeyes did, Boston College should be able to score at least some points here, something the Eagles could not do vs. Florida State.
Trending the Chalk
Finally, while Northern Illinois has been a MAC kingpin for quite a while now, the Huskies are just 5-14 ATS in their last 19 games after scoring less than 20 points in their previous game, and now facing a great Power 5 conference defense does not help matters. Meanwhile, Boston College is 11-1 ATS in its last 12 games following an ATS loss.
We look for the Boston College to suffocate a Northern Illinois team that should be in prime letdown mode here and for the Eagles to produce just enough offensely to cover the moderate spread at home at Chestnut Hill on Saturday.
College Football Pick: Boston College -4½ (-110)