College Football Pick: Kent State +9 over Northern Illinois

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, September 30, 2013 4:00 AM UTC

Monday, Sep. 30, 2013 4:00 AM UTC

Northern Illinois was a BCS Buster last season and is off to a 4-0 start this year, but the Huskies could have a battle on their hands when they visit Kent State on Saturday.

The undefeated BCS Busters from last year might be overvalued on the road Saturday when the Northern Illinois Huskies (4-0, 3-0 away) pay a visit to the Kent State Golden Flashes (2-3, 1-1 home) at Dix Stadium in Kent, OH at 3:30 ET in a game available on GamePlan and ESPN3.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Kent State as a big home underdog for this contest with the current line at +9 with odds of -106.

This game is a rematch of the MAC Championship Game last season when Northern Illinois prevailed in a 44-37 overtime thriller before going on to act as a BCS Buster and get a reality check by getting routed by Florida State 31-10 in the Orange Bowl.

Naturally much has changed since that game, but the Huskies are off to a 4-0 start this season although they remain unranked, making another dream run like last year unlikely. Kent State meanwhile looks to have taken a step back on the surface with its 2-3 record so far under new coach Paul Haynes, who took over after Darrell Hazell departed to take the coaching job at Purdue, but the Golden Flashes had a tough non-conference schedule and can compete here.

Keep in mind that the last two Kent State defeats have come on the road at LSU and at Penn State, obviously as prohibitive dogs in both contests. However, that extremely stiff competition did suit the Flashes well as they followed up those two losses by going on the road in conference play last week and blowing out Western Michigan 32-14 as small 2½-point underdogs. Kent piled up 452 yards in that contest including 276 rushing yards on 5.9 yards per carry.

The Flashes now finally return home after those three straight road affairs and that rushing attack should come in handy vs. a Northern Illinois defense that ranks 79th in the country in rushing defense and in fact ranks 120th in the land in total defense surrendering an ungodly 499.2 yards per game, and the Huskies have not faced any teams of the caliber of LSU or Penn State.

Thus, Kent State should be able to run effectively and kill some clock here, which is a great trait for a nearly double-digit underdog.

Now the Huskies improved to 4-0 with a 55-24 romp over the Purdue Boilermakers last week while accumulating 402 total yards vs. a Big Ten defense. However, Purdue is certainly a bottom tier Big Ten team and the Kent State defense performed well last week after finally getting away from the LSU Tigers and Penn State Nittany Lions of the world, limiting Western Michigan to 310 total yards.

The numbers say that the Golden Flashes rank 92nd in the country in total defense allowing 428.4 yards per game, but that ranking would improve considerably after adjusting for the two aforementioned powerhouses they faced in non-conference play, leaving little doubt that the Kent State defense has outplayed the NIU defense to this point.

When you then add in that Kent State can run the ball well and is catching almost double-digits retuning home, the Golden Flashes look like solid investments at this rather inflated line on Saturday.


College Football Pick: Kent State +9 (-106)

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