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Northern Illinois vs. Ball State Odds & Picks: Huskies Offer Betting Value on Wednesday Night

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Justin Casterline/Getty Images. Pictured: Northern Illinois Huskies quarterback Ross Bowers.

  • Northern Illinois and Ball State face off in Muncie, Indiana for Wednesday night MACtion college football.
  • The Huskies have ceded huge point totals to Buffalo and Central Michigan to open up conference play and are slightly less than two-touchdown underdogs against the Cardinals.
  • Below, you'll find BJ Cunningham's full betting guide, including updated odds and his pick for Wednesday's MAC matchup.

Northern Illinois vs. Ball State Odds

Northern Illinois Odds +14.5 [BET NOW]
Ball State Odds -14.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +440 / -715 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 60 (-112 / -109) [BET NOW]
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV ESPNews
Odds updated Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. ET and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today.

Northern Illinois heads east to take on division rival Ball State on Wednesday night in MAC football action. The Huskies have been torched in their first two games, giving up 40 or more points to Buffalo and Central Michigan.

On the other side, Ball State started off its season losing to Miami (Ohio) in the worst possible way, which you can see below:

Ball State has aspirations of winning the West division and has a huge game with Western Michigan looming next week. In a six-game season, the Cardinals cannot afford to drop this game at home as two-touchdown favorites.

On the other side, this is not the Northern Illinois of years past. With a lot of transition on offense, the Huskies will need to figure something out quickly or  could be headed toward a winless season.

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Northern Illinois Huskies

Offense

Northern Illinois brought in South Dakota State offensive coordinator Eric Eidsness to try to create more of a wide-open attack. So far, things have not gone as planned, with the Huskies gaining a measly 4.3 yards per play.

The problem is their passing game, which was the concern coming into the season. Cal transfer Ryan Bowers’ struggles from last year have carried over into 2020, with him averaging just 5.7 yards per attempt in his first two starts.

The bread and butter of the Huskies’ offense over the last year has been its running game. However, the rushing attack has been nonexistent so far this season, gaining only 2.9 yards per attempt. There is talent on the offensive line, so the ground game should improve going forward, especially since it played two of the best MAC defenses in its first two games.

Defense

Although it was torched by Buffalo and Central Michigan, the Huskies’ defense is the strength of the team. Last year, Northern Illinois was Top 50 in both rushing and passing success allowed, setting it up to repeat those numbers this season. The linebacking corps and secondary return several starters and should improve from their first two games of giving up 6.8 yards per play.

Ball State has been running the ball with a ton of success through its first two games, so the Huskies’ defense needs to show up against the run if it wants to stay in this game.


Ball State Cardinals

Offense

The MAC’s No. 1 offense from 2019 has continued its success in 2020. The Cardinals are powered by their rushing attack and standout Caleb Huntley, who is averaging a ridiculous 6.1 yards per attempt. That has led the Cardinals to being the second-ranked offense in Rushing Success.

However, the passing game has held Ball State back, as Drew Plitt and the Cardinals’ offense sits a mediocre 76th in Passing Success Rate and 125th in passing explosiveness, according to College Football Data.

Ball State benefited in its first two games from fantastic field position, with its average drive starting around the middle of the field this season. That actually makes the Cardinals the best in the country in that statistical category. However, that is unlikely to be sustainable, so it’ll be interesting to see how the offense holds up when it doesn’t have incredible field position starting drives.

Defense

Ball State’s defensive line was a big issue last season, and those problems have spilled over into the 2020 campaign. In 2019, the Cardinals were 92nd in Defensive Line Yards; 98th in Defensive Rushing Success; and, 91st in Power Success Allowed.

So far, Ball State ranks 116th in Defensive Rushing Success, having allowed 4.3 yards per attempt to the Miami (Ohio) and Eastern Michigan offenses.

The strength of Ball State’s defense is in its linebacker group, where it returns three of its four starters. However, the Cardinals lost their secondary’s leading tackler from last season in safety Ray Wilborn. So far, they’ve struggled without him, allowing a whopping 8.8 yards per attempt.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Northern Illinois struggled against the MAC’s two best teams to start its season. However, the Huskies have a much better opportunity Wednesday to get back on track on both sides of the ball. Bowers has struggled under center since coming over from Cal, but he should have a perfect situation to open up Northern Illinois’ passing attack given how bad Ball State’s secondary has performed thus far.

I only have Ball State projected as a minus-8.44 favorite, so I think there’s a little bit of value on Northern Illinois at +13.5.

Pick: Northern Illinois +13.5 (down to +12.5)

[Bet Northern Illinois now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]
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