College Football Odds & Pick For Central Michigan vs. Northern Illinois: Bet the Chippewas Over Huskies
Mark Brown/Getty Images. Pictured: Brian Edwards (4).
- There are few things better than MACtion, and we get even more on Wednesday night.
- The Northern Illinois Huskies will host the Central Michigan Chippewas in DeKalb.
- Mike Ianniello breaks down the game below and explains why he like the Chippewas to cover the spread.
Central Michigan vs. Northern Illinois Odds
|Central Michigan Odds||-7 [BET NOW]|
|Northern Illinois Odds||+7 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-261/+205 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||58.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET|
The big news around the country last week was, of course, the return of MACtion — the greatest conference in football returned and did not disappoint.
The play was so electric that it caused a power outage at Central Michigan’s stadium.
Central Michigan held on to beat Ohio, 30-27, while Northern Illinois was outmatched by Buffalo, 49-30. Now the Chippewas are 7.5-point favorites for Wednesday’s matchup against the Huskies. Should you lay the points with the road team? Let’s take a closer look.
Central Michigan Chippewas
What a season 2019 was for then-first-year head coach Jim McElwain — the former Alabama offensive coordinator and Florida head coach took over a horrible 1-11 Central Michigan team and turned the Chippewas into MAC West champions in one season, earning him MAC Coach of the Year honors.
The biggest key to their quick turnaround was the complete revamping of the offense. McElwain brought in former MAC legend Charlie Frye as offensive coordinator, and the new pro-style offense doubled the team’s scoring average, as it went from 15.0 points per game in 2018 (worst in the MAC) to 30.4 in 2019 (fifth).
Central Michigan returns 70% of its offensive production from last season, including 1,000-yard rusher Kobe Lewis, who will take over as the primary returning back.
Also back for the Chips are last season’s top three receiving leaders: First-time All-MAC receivers JaCorey Sullivan and Kalil Pimpleton return, as does the speedy Tyrone Scott, who averaged 17.5 yards per reception in 2019.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Richardson made his first career start last week and quickly showed off his arm strength, throwing the ball around for 243 yards and accounting for two touchdowns. The confident freshman led his team on a 16-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on the first series of the season.
Richardson has a cannon for an arm and spent the offseason working out with former Central Michigan star receiver Antonio Brown.
The Chippewas boasted the second-best defense in the MAC last season and returned 77% of production to a unit that ranked 40th in the country in Success Rate and 24th against the run.
The strength of the Central Michigan defense is its front seven. Ranked No. 1 in all of college football in Stuff Rate last season, the team returns the majority of its group of defensive linemen and linebackers that led the country in tackles for loss percentage on run plays — that includes All-MAC linebacker Troy Brown, who led the conference with 16.5 tackles for loss last season.
Defensive end Troy Hairston was named MAC Defensive Player of the Week after he totaled seven tackles and three of the team’s five sacks last week.
The Chippewas are definitely vulnerable in the secondary, allowing 231 yards and two touchdowns through the air against Ohio last week, but the defensive line will help its back end by forcing the ball out quickly.
Northern Illinois Huskies
Northern Illinois has been the most dominant team in the MAC and one of the best Group of Five programs over the last 15 years. Since 2005, the Huskies have played in the MAC championship eight times, winning the conference title in four of those games.
However, the Huskies are currently in a clear rebuild mode and field one of the youngest teams in all of college football.
Northern Illinois finished 5-7 last season and now returns just 59% of its total production, which ranks 114th in the FBS. Only 14 starters will be back, and its entire roster features just 55 returnees compared to 57 newcomers, including 47 true freshmen.
In last week’s season opener against Buffalo, the Huskies started seven freshmen — overall, 17 true freshmen and 10 redshirt freshmen saw action against the Bulls.
Senior quarterback Ross Bowers is back at the helm for NIU, but Bowers struggles with consistency, completing just 57.8% of his passes in 2019 while throwing seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.
The Huskies offense finished 109th in the country in Offensive Success Rate last season. Their 22.8 points per game was third-lowest in the MAC.
Betting Analysis & Pick
This young Huskies pack will need to protect the ball much better in order to have any chance this season. They lost four fumbles and an interception last week, allowing Buffalo to score three defensive touchdowns.
Central Michigan should find success on the ground with Lewis, who went for 112 yards and two touchdowns in the opener against a solid Ohio defense. Now, he gets to face n NIU defense that allowed 182 rushing yards and three touchdowns against Buffalo in its opener.
The Huskies offensive line ranked 119th in Line Yards and 91st in Sack Rate last season and is made up of mostly underclassmen. They will have their work cut out trying to stop this Chippewa defensive front that excels in stuffing the run and currently leads the country in Sack Rate after generating five last week.
In last season’s meeting, the Chippewas rolled the Huskies, 48-10. Central Michigan also out-gained NIU, 615-251. Lewis rushed for 143 yards and a score on 17 carries, and the Chippewas intercepted Bowers three times.
While another game that lopsided seems unlikely, I trust the Chippewas to cover the number against this inexperienced Huskies team and would back them up to -9.5
Pick: Central Michigan -7.5