2018 MAC Championship Betting Guide: Major Contrast in Styles for NIU-Buffalo
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tyree Jackson and Sutton Smith
Northern Illinois-Buffalo Betting Odds, Pick
- Odds: Buffalo -3.5
- Over/Under: 51
- Time: 7 p.m. ET (Friday)
- TV: ESPN2
>> All odds as of Thursday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.
In July, NIU was listed as the favorite to win the MAC at 2-1 odds, while Buffalo was listed at 12-1. Fast forward four months, and it’s Buffalo that is favored over NIU to win the conference.
Buffalo won the first meeting between these schools back in 1968. But since then, it’s been all NIU, which has won 11 in a row between 1970 and 2017 — 10 of which came since 1999. Last year, NIU defeated the Bulls in Buffalo, 14-13, in a game that didn’t see a single point scored in the second half.
These two teams enter this game with contrasting styles and very different bodies of work. NIU played a much tougher non-conference schedule, traveling to BYU, Iowa and Florida State, plus a home game against Utah.
Buffalo played Delaware State, Rutgers, Army and Temple. As a result, the Bulls had the 126th-toughest schedule in the nation.
Could those tough games pay off for NIU here, and is the market perception a little inflated for Buffalo because of its cake schedule? Let’s dive in.
Odds Moves for Buffalo-NIU
By PJ Walsh
Buffalo opened as a 4-point road favorite and is attracting 73% of tickets wagered on the spread. Despite bettors backing the Bulls, the line has settled in at -3.5 across the market.
In terms of sharp money, wiseguys have turned their attention to the over/under. After oddsmakers opened the number at 49, Sports Insights’ Bet Signals triggered two Steam Moves on the over, explaining why the total has pushed up to 51.
Buffalo Can Neutralize NIU Pass Rush
I think Buffalo can have more success in getting after the quarterback. Many will focus on defensive end Sutton Smith and a Northern Illinois defense that accumulated an NCAA-best 46 sacks in 2018.
However, Buffalo has allowed just eight total sacks all season (only Army and Air Force have allowed fewer) and ranks in the top 10 in Adjusted Sack Rate.
Buffalo’s defensive front actually has the better matchup, also ranking in the top 15 in Adjusted Sack Rate. That should cause major problems for an NIU offensive line that ranks 109th in that same category — including 119th on Passing Downs.
Is the NIU Passing Game This Bad?
By Steve Petrella