College Football Picks: Northern Illinois vs. Bowling Green to Fall Under 70.5

Willie Bee

Monday, November 30, 2015 7:25 PM UTC

Monday, Nov. 30, 2015 7:25 PM UTC

College Football Championship Week begins Friday in Detroit where Bowling Green is favored on the college football odds against Northern Illinois for the MAC title.

After five consecutive appearances in the Mid-American Conference Championship, it appeared the Northern Illinois Huskies were doomed to sit this year's event out. That was before the Toledo Rockets succumbed to an upset by the Western Michigan Broncos last week, that outcome throwing the MAC West into a three team knot with the Huskies owning the tiebreaker.

It's not only the sixth straight year for Northern Illinois to make it to the title tilt, but also the third consecutive season the Huskies will be going up against the Bowling Green Falcons, champions of the MAC East. The rivals lace 'em up and kick off conference championship week Friday night in Detroit, the boot coming a little past 8 PM (ET) at Ford Field with ESPN2 providing the telecast.

BetOnline opened the spread with the Falcons favored by 7½, those college football odds quickly rising to 10 by Monday morning. Most shops are carrying 70 for the total.

The 20th meeting between these schools finds Bowling Green up 11-8 in the series that first began in 1968. Most of the matchups have been as MAC foes, a few coming when NIU was playing the independent role. The last two clashes have come in the MAC Championship, the sides splitting the decisions in fairly one-sided affairs.

Both of the title bouts have been played on the artificial surface at Ford Field, each time going 'over' the totals. Northern Illinois demolished a turnover-prone Falcons team in last year's championship 51-17, as 5 point chalk. The Huskies scored 24 unanswered points in the second half and rumbled for 334 yards on the ground in the victory.


Falcons Top-Scoring Team In MAC
That NIU win came against a Bowling Green (9-3 straight up & against the spread) team that stumbled to a 7-5 regular season record and lost three of its last five games prior to the MAC Championship. This year's Falcons squad lost a couple of early non-conference games to Tennessee and Memphis, teams that were ranked in the top 25 at various times, then raced through the MAC slate with seven wins in eight contests, the only setback coming two weeks ago to Toledo.

Dino Babers' bunch rebounded from that defeat with a convincing 48-10 rout at Ball State last Tuesday, having more than enough to cover the 23½ point spread. The Falcons rushed for a season-high 337 yards on 37 carries and converted three Cardinal turnovers into 14 points.

Bowling Green comes into this game in good health, and will have enjoyed some extra rest thanks to playing last Tuesday. The Falcons rank No. 1 in the MAC scoring more than 44 points a game, and tops in total offense (566 ypg).


Huskies Ground Game Stalls In Loss To Ohio
Northern Illinois (8-4 SU, 8-3-1 ATS) also enters this game with some extra rest having played last Tuesday, though the Huskies saw a 6-game win streak end with a 26-21 upset defeat at the hands of Ohio. Favored by 11½ on the college football betting board, NIU never could get its running game going against the Bobcats, and neither quarterback Rod Carey deployed could rally the Huskies from a 20-7 halftime deficit.

Carey was forced to go with Ryan Graham and Tommy Fiedler after 1st-string QB Drew Hare suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in a Week 10 win at Toledo. Both Graham and Fielder are freshman, Graham getting all of the snaps in place of Hare until last week.

Whoever is under center this week might not have wide receiver Tommylee Lewis to throw to. The senior has missed the last three games with an ankle injury, and is questionable for Friday's contest.

Weather won't be a factor with the game played indoors, and it sets up to be a high-scoring affair. Northern Illinois has been susceptible to the pass, Bowling Green's forte, the Falcons faltering at times against the run, which is the Huskies' strength. Still, I think this one goes against the trends set the last two years; my free college football pick is on the 'Under.'

College Football Pick: Under 70½ at Bookmaker

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