Pick Northern Illinois -3 over Bowling Green Friday

David Lawrence

Friday, December 6, 2013 12:30 PM GMT

The No. 14 ranked Northern Illinois Huskies are just one step away from being a potential BCS-buster for a second year in a row. Surely they won’t slip up in their final, manageable test of the year, right? Don’t be so sure.

The Huskies lost to Miami of Ohio in the MAC Championship Game back in 2010 and last year, needed double-overtime just to survive Kent State. Yes, they have the better overall record between the two teams in this matchup but nothing is a given in this spot for the Huskies. This will be a classic matchup of offense versus defense as both teams field the best units in the MAC.

[gameodds]6/251563/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

The Bowling Green Falcons can win because…

They just shut down a lethal running game in their latest game. That’ll give them the confidence that they can do it again to Jordan Lynch and company. The Falcons needed to beat Buffalo to get to this point and they held them to just 15 rushing yards and 236 yards of total offense. We’re talking about a Bulls team that averages – even after that shoddy performance – 171.9 rushing yards per game and 401.8 of total offense. 

Experts who make their college football picks and have been following the Falcons all season long know that they field one of the best defenses in the country. They allow 13.75 points per outing and outside from a 42-10 loss in Indiana, have been very stingy. They’ve allowed a total of 17 points in the last four weeks combined. 

The Huskies are coming off a very lackadaisical effort against Western Michigan. Yes, they won 33-14. A 19-point win doesn’t look too bad but when you consider that Western Michigan was a one-win team this year, you’d expect more from the Huskies – especially with a 321-yard rushing effort from Lynch. If the Falcons can contain Lynch, they’ll drag the Huskies into a dogfight. The college football odds makers seem to expect that as the Huskies are only favored by three points in this one. 

The Northern Illinois Huskies can win because… 

Nobody can slow them down right now. The Huskies are in the midst of a magical season as they’re 12-0 for the first time in school history. This comes on the heels of a marvelous 2012 campaign where they played in the Orange Bowl (and lost to Florida State). This team is not just MAC-good, they’re BCS-good.

Quarterback Jordan Lynch doesn’t garner enough attention because he plays for Northern Illinois but he’s a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. He’s definitely got the numbers with 2457 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, five interceptions 1755 rushing yards and 20 more rushing touchdowns. If he played in a power conference, he’d be the Heisman favorite.

The Falcons are 9-3 but they faced a very soft schedule. They only played three teams with a winning record this year (Toledo, Ohio and Buffalo) and went 2-1 in those games. Northern Illinois is good, has pedigree and will be focused. That’ll be too much for the Falcons to handle.

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Outlook & Pick 

The Huskies caught some breaks last week even though they didn’t play – especially with Fresno State losing. Their path is clear to a second straight BCS bowl with a win at Ford Field on Friday. 

After a very slopped effort last Tuesday, look for the Huskies to eventually outlast Bowling Green in a tougher-than-expected win. This is one of those games that the public will likely be siding with Northern Illinois while the sharps will understand that Bowling Green has a very legitimate shot to win this game. That being said, the Huskies will have had almost two weeks to prepare and should find a way to win. 

Pick: Huskies -3 at BetOnline