Northern Illinois 2018 Betting Preview: Brutal Non-Conference Slate Will Hurt Huskies
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: NIU coach Rod Carey
Northern Illinois 2018 Betting Odds
- To win the National Title: +400000
- To win the MAC: +320
- Win Total: 6.5 (over -120, under -110)
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Northern Illinois 2018 Schedule, Betting Odds
The Action Network Projected Wins: 6.3
Bet To Watch
Northern Illinois Under 6.5 wins (-110)
NIU is one of the favorites to win the MAC, but you would never know that from its win total. The Huskies non-conference schedule includes Iowa, Utah, Florida State, and BYU, and they won’t be favored in any of those games. Northern Illinois also faces the toughest cross-division teams from the East, including Ohio, Eastern Michigan and Miami of Ohio.
If that wasn’t enough, NIU plays three consecutive road games, ending Oct. 6. The good news? The Huskies are 10-3-1 ATS as an away underdog since 2011.
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NIU’s defense improved in a big way in 2017, going from 94th to 14th in defensive S&P+. The Huskies will need to maintain that level of play to win 7-8 games. One of the biggest reasons for the defensive improvement and overall havoc rating of 23rd in 2017 was defensive end Sutton Smith. He had 14 sacks and 63 tackles (30 for loss).
But questions at quarterback persist yearly in DeKalb. Northern Illinois has not won more than eight games since 2014 as a result. Sophomore Marcus Childers will take the reigns after finishing last year as the starter (6.7 yards per attempt, 57.4 completion percentage, 16-5 TD-INT ratio).
A schedule loaded with physical games brings depth into question not just at quarterback, but all over the field. We will take the Under 6.5 (-110), as a 1-4 start could have the Huskies scrapping Toledo and the toughest teams in the MAC East to get bowl eligible.