Buffalo vs. Northern Illinois Odds, Pick, Prediction: Huskies Still Overvalued

Buffalo vs. Northern Illinois Odds, Pick, Prediction: Huskies Still Overvalued article feature image
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Nic Antaya/Getty Images. Pictured: Kyle Vantrease.

  • Updated Buffalo vs. Northern Illinois odds list the Huskies as a 1.5-point favorite, with the total down to 60 and 59.5 at some sportsbooks, including FanDuel.
  • NIU can clinch a spot in the MAC Championship with a win but Kody Malstrom likes the Bulls to win outright.
  • Get his full NIU vs. Buffalo preview and pick below.

Updated Buffalo vs. NIU Odds

Wednesday, Nov. 17
7 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Buffalo Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+1.5
60
-110o / -110u
+110
Northern Illinois Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-1.5
60
-110o / -110u
-130
Odds updated Wednesday night and via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The week’s not over yet. MACtion strolls along with more midweek action as we near the end of the 2021 college football season.

This is the time of the year when we start to see conference championship pictures taker shape and evaluate which teams are fighting for postseason life.

Coming into this week, Northern Illinois and Buffalo fit that description.

The Huskies have taken the MAC West by storm this season, leading the division nearly all year. While it’s not completely secured, it has comfort in knowing it owns the tiebreaker over second-place Central Michigan, which also plays tonight.

Buffalo, meanwhile, sits at only 2-4 in MAC play and has seemingly no conference title hopes. But that doesn’t mean the Bulls have nothing to play for. Sitting at 4-6, they need to win their next two in order to go bowling.

This may very well come down to motivation, making this a must-watch for our Wednesday night pleasure.


Buffalo Bulls

Buffalo’s Offense Outmatches Opposing Defense

Buffalo’s playbook will be wide open going into this game, as NIU is one of the worst defenses in football that’s not Akron. It ranks on the wrong side of 100 in nearly every defensive metric.

NIU owns one of the worst rush defenses in football, an area that Buffalo will look to attack early and often. Buffalo ranks around the national median in rushing metrics, ranking 57th in Rush Success and 59th in Line Yards.

Running back Dylan McDuffie will look to shred the Huskies defense as the focal point of the offense. He has run for 857 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.

If the Bulls want to keep their bowl hopes alive, they will need to make every possession count because NIU is one of the slowest-paced teams in football. More time off the clock from the NIU run-heavy offense equals fewer possessions.

Can Bulls Defense Get Needed Stops?

While the Buffalo offense should have no problems putting up points against the NIU defense, it will be up to the Buffalo defense to seal the win and keep its bowl hopes alive.

This is easier said than done, as the Buffalo defense is nothing special. In fact, it ranks worse in nearly every metric matchup when compared to the NIU offense.

There’s one shining glimmer of hope for this Buffalo defense: the pass rush. It will pressure opposing quarterback Rocky Lombardi early and often, as Buffalo ranks 12th in the nation in pass rush.

Lombardi has shown he’s prone to turn it over from his Michigan State days. Now with the Huskies, he’s already thrown for seven interceptions.

Buffalo will need to capitalize on any turnover luck I can get, as NIU ranks 22nd in Havoc Allowed.


Northern Illinois Huskies

NIU Will Look to Run the Ball

Northern Illinois’ offense scheme is pretty straightforward: run the ball, run some more, and then run it again. The Huskies boast one of the highest rush rates in football at 63%, ranking 13th in the nation.

Not only do they run it as much as possible, but they also do it efficiently. The Huskies are near the top 20 in both rushing metrics, ranking 21st in Rush Success Rate and 13th Line Yards.

Running back Jay Ducker has led the team in rushing, gaining 734 yards and three touchdowns at an average of 5.6 yards per carry. He comes into this matchup with some momentum after rushing for 155 yards in his last outing.

Another key metric that explains the Huskies’ success has been their ability to take care of the ball. Ranking 22nd in Havoc Allowed, keeping possession and staying on schedule is more important than ever as they play at one of the slowest paces in football.

Northern Illinois Needs to Defend its Offensive Strength

Insert the Spider-Man pointing at each other GIF because the Huskies defense will need to prep for Buffalo’s rush attack.

While Buffalo doesn’t run it nearly as often as the Huskies, it will still look to exploit this poor rush defense as often as possible. NIU ranks near the bottom of the nation in both defensive rush metrics, ranking 126th in Defensive Rush Success Rate and 129th in Line Yards.

NIU generates little to no Havoc and is one of the worst coverage teams in football. This is an all-around poor defense that constantly relies on its offense to keep it ahead in games.

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Buffalo vs. Northern Illinois Matchup Analysis

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

Northern Illinois Offense vs. Buffalo Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 21 99
Line Yards 13 97
Pass Success 39 85
Pass Blocking** 74 12
Big Play 56 119
Havoc 22 51
Finishing Drives 28 66
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Buffalo Offense vs. Northern Illinois Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 57 126
Line Yards 59 129
Pass Success 76 74
Pass Blocking** 95 116
Big Play 108 108
Havoc 28 119
Finishing Drives 66 121
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 51 36
Coverage 108 128
Middle 8 109 18
SP+ Special Teams 72 110
Plays per Minute 102 17
Rush Rate 63.% (13) 59.5% (32)

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


Buffalo vs. Northern Illinois Betting Pick

In my opinion, this is the most intriguing MACtion matchup of the week.

Northern Illinois will look to seal a berth to the MAC Championship, while Buffalo needs to win out the season to become bowl eligible.

I lean toward Buffalo, as it should have no problem scoring on NIU’s horrendous defense. The Bulls have a key advantage with their pass rush, which hopefully can rattle Lombardi into making mistakes.

Buffalo’s spread isn’t the only bet on my radar, as NIU’s rush rate and pace of play make the under intriguing as well.

As of writing, high winds and rain are expected. This may lead to both offenses going even more run-heavy and bleeding the clock all game. With neither team being spectacular in big plays created, we could see stalled-out runs stuffed often on early downs.

Our Action Network projections currently have Buffalo as a -1.5 favorite. I grabbed Buffalo at +2 and would play this no less than our projection. I will also monitor the weather to hit the under come game time.

Pick: Buffalo +2 (Play to -1.5) | Lean Under

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