Northern Illinois vs Toledo Leads MACtion Wednesday Two Pack

NIU vs. Toledo

Rainman M.

Monday, November 5, 2018 1:49 PM UTC

Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 1:49 PM UTC

The MAC takes center stage on Wednesday night. Leading the way is Northern Illinois, which looks to stay undefeated in the conference by defeating Toledo.

Toledo (5-4 SU, 4-5 ATS) at Northern Illinois (6-3 SU, 5-4 ATS)Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN 2)Free NCAAF Pick: Huskies ATSBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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The injury struggles of Toledo quarterback Mitchell Guadagni yield insight into the betting significance of his health. When he played a complete game, Toledo was 2-1 ATS. The non-cover came against the Miami Hurricanes. In the fourth game of the season, Guadagni suffered a concussion while his team was down 13-21 against Fresno State. The Bulldogs then scored 28 consecutive points en route to an easy cover. With backup Eli Peters, the Rockets then failed to cover against Bowling Green. Guadagni returned against Eastern Michigan, although it took time for him to shake off the rust. Toledo was down 28-6 through three quarters when Guadagni led a furious comeback that come up short. Guadagni was still shaky in the first quarter against Buffalo. He left with the game tied 7-7 and, with Peters leading Toledo the rest of the way, Toledo lost by two touchdowns as three-point favorites. So, after Guadagni led Toledo to a 2-1 ATS start, when he played a minimal role the next four games largely due to injury, the Rockets were 0-4 ATS.

With Peters, but not so much because of him, Toledo covered the past two games. The Rockets ran all over one of the nation’s worst run defenses (in terms of yards per carry), scoring 51 points despite only 107 passing yards from Peters. In that game, Peters played the second half because Guadagni was dealing with renewed injury struggles. Guadagni’s shoulder kept him from playing last week against Ball State. But fortunately for Toledo, Ball State has the worst pass defense in the conference and had to play without quarterback Riley Neal, without whom it’s been very evident since last year that Ball State is a betting disaster.

The Huskies pose an immensely tougher defensive challenge, meaning that Toledo will miss Guadagni, who reportedly isn’t likely to be ready in time. NIU’s pass defense is one of the MAC's highest-rated in terms of opposing passer rating. It ranks next to Buffalo, against which Peters was 5-for-17. Like Buffalo, the Huskies returned a superb defensive line, led by last year’s MAC Player of the Year, Sutton Smith, who leads the team with eight sacks. The secondary also is experienced, led by the safety who transferred from Notre Dame, Mykelti Williams.

On offense, the Huskies are led by a ball-secure quarterback and a run-first offense. Toledo’s defensive line suffered the most departures and is easily the weak point of its defense. Toledo ranks 95th in opposing YPC. Tre Harbison and Marcus Jones combined for over 200 yards on the ground last week and look to repeat that against Toledo.

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Ohio (6-3 SU, 6-3 ATS) at Miami (Ohio) (3-6 SU, 5-4 ATS)Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN U)Free NCAAF Pick: OverBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Both pass defenses are very exploitable and both offenses are led by prolific quarterbacks. Miami is a strong "over" team in conference play (5-1) while Ohio „overs“ are 2-3, but have hit twice in a row. In Miami’s one "under," they faced one of the nation’s lowest-ranked pass attacks in terms of passer rating. Woody Barrett mustered a season-low 149 yards and Kent State scored only six points. However, Ohio’s quarterback is the MAC’s most prolific. Nathan Rourke is the centerpiece of Ohio’s offense and leads MAC quarterbacks with 9.5 yards per attempt and a 167.4 passer rating. He’ll thrive against a lower-ranked Miami defense whose top two defensive backs departed.

In Ohio’s "unders," they dominated time of possession with its running game. But Miami’s defensive line returned six of its top eight defensive linemen and likewise significant experience in its linebacking corps. As a team, Miami allows just 3.6 yards per carry. In Ohio’s "unders,“ they also faced a weak passing attack. Yet Gus Ragland is about as important to Miami’s offense as Rourke is to Ohio’s. He boasts a 15-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio and is coming off a 300+ yard effort against Buffalo, one of the MAC’s top pass defenses. He'll thrive against an Ohio pass defense that allows one of the nation’s highest frequencies in pass plays and one of the nation’s worst opposing passer ratings.

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