Northern Illinois vs. Ball State MACtion Odds, Picks, Predictions: The Bet to Make for Wednesday’s College Football Game

Northern Illinois vs. Ball State MACtion Odds, Picks, Predictions: The Bet to Make for Wednesday’s College Football Game article feature image
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James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Yo’Heinz Tyler.

Northern Illinois vs. Ball State Odds

Wednesday, Nov. 10
7 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Northern Illinois Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+2.5
-110
60.5
-110o / -110u
+110
Ball State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-2.5
-110
60.5
-110o / -110u
-130
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Tuesday and Wednesday nights in November actually have some meaning now, thanks to MACtion’s wild antics.

The MAC’s West Division is in a tight race that will have all six teams fighting in the final month to become regular-season champions.

Northern Illinois is leading the charge with a 4-1 conference record. The Huskies suffered their first conference loss last week to Kent State, 52-47, in a game where defense was optional.

This week, they host Ball State, which currently sits in a three-way tie for the second spot. The Cardinals were lucky to survive last week as 20.5-point favorites over Akron, a bottom-five team in the country.

Zips quarterback Zach Gibson fumbled when diving into the end zone to take the lead with 90 seconds remaining.

Zach Gibson dives for the end zone, but fumbles & Ball Stat recovers. Akron was so close to completing the comeback.

BALL STATE 31
AKRON 25

pic.twitter.com/7tYw10WSb5

— CFB Blitz (@BlitzCfb) November 3, 2021

Though these two teams own the top records on their respective sides of the conference, they are the bottom feeders from a power ratings perspective.

The Cardinals won the 2020 MAC championship and have an opportunity to take control of the West Division with a victory.


Northern Illinois Huskies

Northern Illinois was undefeated (5-0) in one-score games before last week’s 47-52 defeat to Kent State.

In three of those matchups, the Huskies were outgained in total yardage. The others were a two-point victory over Toledo and a one-point victory over Central Michigan in which they trailed by 18 at half.

The Huskies run the ball on 64% of their offensive plays, which gives them a ranking of 10th in the nation in Rush Rate.

Starting running back Harrison Waylee went down with an injury in Week 5. Freshman Jay Ducker has exploded since taking over the starting role by averaging 165 rushing yards per game on 5.9 yards per carry.

The ground game has contributed 52% of the total yards for Northern Illinois.

The passing attack that’s led by quarterback Rocky Lombardi had been underwhelming before the last two weeks. Lombardi threw for six touchdowns and six interceptions while totaling 973 passing yards in the first seven games this season.

Over the last two, he’s tossed six touchdowns and zero interceptions while adding 880 passing yards. Although impressive, those stats came against lackluster defenses in Kent State and Central Michigan.

Defensively, the Huskies have been one of the bottom groups in the MAC, allowing 34 points and 450 total yards per game. Last week against Kent State, the defense was nonexistent and allowed 52 points and nearly 700 yards of total offense.

Northern Illinois defense will be at a major disadvantage in creating Havoc, where they rank 123rd. That goes along with their ranking of 125th in Success Rate and Line Yards.

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Ball State Cardinals

Ball State has an opportunity to take control of the MAC West with a victory.

To do that, they’re going to need to slow down the rushing attack of Northern Illinois — something they’ve accomplished as of late.

The Ball State defense has allowed 3.9 yards per carry, which ranks among the top 40 nationally. In the last four games, the Cardinals haven’t allowed a single team to rush for over 130 yards and have held opponents to 2.9 yards per carry.

The defense also ranks among the top 10 in the country in tackling, according to PFF.

Offensively, the Cardinals have taken a step back from the 2020 group that averaged 35 points per game. This season, that number has dropped by 10 points, but they will have an opportunity to look like an elite offense against a nonexistent Northern Illinois defense.

Quarterback Drew Plitt has continued to show improvement as the season has progressed. In the last five games, Plitt has thrown 12 touchdowns to one interception while averaging 7.6 yards per pass attempt.

Freshman running back Carson Steele has rushed for over 100 yards in two of the last three games. He should be in store for a big game against an NIU defense that ranks 125th in Rushing Success Rate and has allowed 5.9 yards per carry (123rd nationally).


Northern Illinois vs. Ball State Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Ball State and Northern Illinois match up statistically:

Ball State Offense vs. Northern Illinois Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 85 125
Line Yards 78 125
Pass Success 99 64
Pass Blocking** 94 108
Big Play 81 73
Havoc 29 123
Finishing Drives 57 117
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Northern Illinois Offense vs. Ball State Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 31 82
Line Yards 18 88
Pass Success 72 127
Pass Blocking** 95 30
Big Play 126 10
Havoc 27 102
Finishing Drives 43 84
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 10 33
Coverage 99 115
Middle 8 125 107
SP+ Special Teams 78 65
Plays per Minute 23 114
Rush Rate 50.9% (92) 64.3% (10)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Northern Illinois vs. Ball State Betting Pick

The Northern Illinois defense has started to look like it’s taking the field with 10 players. The group has allowed 12 touchdowns on 23 possessions over the last two games.

Last week, it allowed nearly 700 yards of total offense, and Thomas Hammock elected to go for an onside kick in the third quarter due to the lack of confidence in his defense.

I don’t blame him for the move as the Huskies have allowed 6.8 yards per play on the season, ranking 121st in the country. Against FBS opponents, the defense has allowed 36 points per game with every opponent scoring at least 20 points.

The Northern Illinois offense has been the bright spot recently that has kept it competitive. The offense owns a rush rate of 64%, but if the ground game isn’t working, the offense has stalled.

Ball State has been stout over the last month at stopping the run by holding opponents to 2.9 yards per carry. The Cardinals will lean on their top-10 tackling unit to contain the Huskies’ rushing attack.

Ball State will be able to string together some stops on early run downs to put the NIU offense behind the chains, somewhere the Huskies aren’t built to overcome.

Pick: Ball State -2.5 (Play to -3)

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