Eastern Illinois vs. Northern Illinois Odds, Picks: How to Bet Thursday’s In-State College Football Matchup
Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Northern Illinois Huskies at 2021 Mid-American Conference championship football game
- Eastern Illinois takes on Northern Illinois in an in-state college football matchup on Thursday.
- The Huskies, who won the MAC last season, enter this game as huge favorites over their in-state rivals.
- Check out Doug Ziefel's full betting guide for this game, along with his top pick, below.
Eastern Illinois vs. Northern Illinois Odds
|Eastern Illinois Odds|
-110o / -110u
|Northern Illinois Odds|
-110o / -110u
We have ourselves an Illinois directional school matchup as the Eastern Illinois Panthers will travel to take on the Northern Illinois Huskies.
The Panthers found themselves at the bottom of the Ohio Valley Conference last season as they were a dreadful 1-10 on the year, with their lone win coming against Tennessee Tech.
As for the Huskies, they come into this season looking to rekindle the magic they found in 2021. They ran through the MAC and made an improbable run to become conference champions. Northern Illinois will bring back its daring brand of football as the team led the nation in fourth down conversion rate.
This is a giant mismatch on paper, but can the Pathers compete with the Huskies? Let’s dive in and find out.
As I went over in the open, the Panthers were the worst team in the Ohio Valley Conference last season, but they are doing everything they can to put last season behind them.
A turnaround always starts at the top, as Eastern Illinois has a new head coach in Chris Wilkerson. Wilkerson comes to the program with a winning pedigree: He is the former head coach at the University of Chicago, where he led the team to a 51-27 record over nine seasons.
Wilkerson will have some talent at his disposal, as well. The Panthers had six players named to the preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference team.
Among those six players is wide receiver Isaiah Hill, who averaged 98 receiving yards per game in his five appearances last season. While the Panthers may be recognized for their talent entering 2022, let’s remember that it is all relevant, and the Ohio Valley conference may be the worst conference in FBS football.
If that notion is true, then Eastern Illinois was the worst of the worst, and their numbers showed it. They were outscored by an average of 14 points per game. They allowed their opposition to gain 350 yards per game and 5.3 yards per play.
However, the key area to highlight in their struggles is their rush defense. The Huskies ran the ball at over a 63 percent clip last year, and that is terrible news for the Panthers. Eastern Illinois allowed their opponents to average more than 180 yards on the ground per game and 4.3 yards per carry.
Now, if you’re wondering why I haven’t talked much about the Panthers’ offense, that is because there is not much to expect.
They lost both their leading rushers from last season, and their starting quarterback will likely be sophomore Otto Kuhns, a transfer from Norfolk State who had a 46.5 completion percentage and threw four more interceptions than he did touchdowns in eight games last season.
Northern Illinois’ defense was not good last season by any means, but the Panthers’ offense may be worse.
The defending MAC champions come into this season with high expectations. They return redshirt senior quarterback Rocky Lombardi, who threw for more than 2,500 yards and rushed for 472 more.
He’ll also benefit from having the best offensive line in the MAC to protect him. That tremendous group is led by Action Network Group of Five preseason All-American offensive tackle Nolan Potter.
Despite returning a majority of the talent that led them to the MAC championship last season, the Huskies are far from favorites to repeat. However, they still have a lot to prove and have the talent to make another run, as Stuckey pointed out in his MAC Manifesto.
However, he also said that this matchup would be a free win for the Huskies, and given the substantial disparities between the teams, it should be. While Eastern Illinois will have time to prepare, there is nothing that leads me to believe that they will stifle the Huskies’ offense in any facet.
The Huskies’ rushing game is their bread and butter. While they did lose their leading rusher from last season, they get back Harrison Waylee, who is returning from injury and led the team in rushing in 2020. He and Lombardi should face little resistance for the amount of time they are in the game.
Eastern Illinois vs. Northern Illinois Betting Pick
The Panthers may be doing everything they can to turn around their program, but they will be simply outclassed in this matchup. The Huskies are more talented, more experienced, and have the ability to pulverize the Panthers where they are weak.
The line for this game is sitting around 33.5, but be sure to shop around as this is a matchup that oddsmakers may overlook, and there are stale lines available.
Nonetheless, the Huskies should score at will when their starters are on the field. So, I’m taking them to cover this spread as Eastern Illinois just isn’t on their level.