College Football Week 3 Northern Illinois vs. Michigan Betting Odds & Pick: Wolverines to Cruise to Another Victory?

College Football Week 3 Northern Illinois vs. Michigan Betting Odds & Pick: Wolverines to Cruise to Another Victory? article feature image
Credit:

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. Pictured: Hassan Haskins.

  • Michigan will host Northern Illinois in a Noon ET game on the Big Ten Network.
  • The No. 25 Wolverines are fresh off a 31-10 victory over Washington while the Huskies lost a shootout vs. Wyoming.
  • Tanner McGrath breaks down the contest and delivers his pick.

Northern Illinois vs. Michigan Odds

Saturday, Sept. 18
12 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network
Northern Illinois Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+27.5
-110
54.5
-110o / -110u
+1700
Michigan Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-27.5
-110
54.5
-110o / -110u
-4000
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Jim Harbaugh and Michigan are having a solid start to their season, demolishing both Western Michigan and Washington on their way to a 2-0 ATS record.

Following an amazing upset over Georgia Tech – as 20-point underdogs no less – Northern Illinois followed it up with a tough seven-point loss to Wyoming. It is 1-0-1 ATS on the season.

Following this game, Northern Illinois has one more game against Maine before it hops into MAC play, while Michigan starts Big Ten play next week with Rutgers in Ann Arbor.

So, who has the edge in this matchup? Even as 27-point favorites, will we see Michigan cruise to another big ATS victory? Or does Northern Illinois have another big upset in store.


Northern Illinois Huskies

Despite their tough loss to Wyoming, the Huskies’ season is off to a relatively hot start following their 0-6 campaign in 2020.

However, the win against Georgia Tech was a complete fluke, as the Huskies were seriously outgained (429 to 301 total yards) and overpowered (allowed 25 first downs to gaining 15). Plus, the Yellow Jackets quarterback went down early in that one.

This team looked more like themselves in the game against Wyoming. The offense was intriguing albeit inexperienced, and the defense was hot garbage.

Northern Illinois still has one of the longest odds to win the MAC this season, sitting at +5000 on BetMGM.


Huskies Offense

Northern Illinois enters today’s matchup with some interesting offensive numbers. Its 19th in Rushing Success and 23rd in Adjusted Line Yards, and as such has finished with over 200 rush yards/game on over five YPC through Week 2.

However, there are two massive issues with this unit.

First, I’m expecting big-time regression in the run game. The Huskies returned just 62% of their production from last season, per TARP, including just 59 total starts to an offensive line that finished outside the top 100 in Adjusted Line Yards in their MAC-only 2020 schedule.

Second, Rocky Lombardi is not a good quarterback. Following three straight underwhelming years at Michigan State, Lombardi has completed just 56% of his passes for a whopping 369 yards through his first two games.

In that win against Georgia Tech, Lombardi went just 11-for-17 for 136 total yards. In the loss against Wyoming, he was picked off three times.

Even with a talented group of receivers, don’t expect this pass attack to have much success.


Huskies Defense

There’s not much good to say about this group. Through their first two weeks, the Huskies have finished outside the top 100 in almost every single statistical category.

Given the Huskies returned 87% of their defensive production from last season per TARP, you’d expect Northern Illinois to have some success on this end. But that number is a bit misleading, given that almost the entire defensive unit was composed of true freshman last season. This is still a very young and inexperienced squad.

Hence why its allowed almost 500 total yards in each of its first two contests and just allowed a whopping 50 points to Wyoming at home.

The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Michigan Wolverines

As mentioned, the Wolverines enter their final non-conference game 2-0 SU and 2-0 ATS. As they say: Good teams win, great teams cover.

Michigan’s been strong in the trenches, but while Cade McNamara shows promise, there’s still a lot of questions surrounding the quarterback.

Either way, Michigan is 25th in the AP Poll at the time of this writing and has the fourth shortest odds to win the Big Ten at BetMGM.


Wolverines Offense

As mentioned, Michigan has been good in the trenches. It ran all over both Western Michigan and Washington, compiling over 345 rush yards in both contests. So far, Michigan has run the ball 75.6% of the time, which is fourth in the nation through Week 2.

This was all expected, however, as Michigan returned four starters on the offensive line. The Rush Success and Adjusted Line numbers aren’t superb, but Michigan is currently fifth in Havoc Allowed.

McNamara has been solid in his limited action, completing over 60% of his passes and tossing two touchdowns to no picks. I’m still a bit ambivalent on him going forward, but if Michigan can rush the ball like it has been, it might not matter.


Wolverines Defense

The big change coming into the season was new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. Things have looked pretty good so far. Michigan has allowed just 24 total points through its first two contests, and it is currently 10th in the country in Finishing Drives allowed.

Specifically, Michigan has been great up front. Michigan allowed just 2.6 yards per carry against Western Michigan and Washington and currently ranks 35th in Defensive Line Yards.

The passing defense is still an unanswered question with Michigan. Michigan ranked 121st in Sack Rate last season, and it’s only compiled one sack through the first two games. However, the Wolverines do rank 25th in Pass Rush and have held their two opponents to an okay 6.5 yards per pass attempt.


Northern Illinois vs. Michigan Matchup Analysis

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

Northern Illinois Offense vs. Michigan Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success
19
56
Line Yards
23
35
Pass Success
68
46
Pass Blocking*
55
25
Big Play
105
77
Havoc
29
46
Finishing Drives
10
10
* Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Michigan Offense vs. Northern Illinois Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success
30
126
Line Yards
49
122
Pass Success
101
114
Pass Blocking*
53
103
Big Play
79
96
Havoc
5
118
Finishing Drives
103
126
* Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling
37
25
PFF Coverage
103
44
Middle 8
123
68
SP+ Special Teams
30
5
Plays per Minute
64
100
Rush Rate
60.2% (38)
75.6% (4)

Data via College Football Data (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF & SportSource Analytics.
 

Northern Illinois vs. Michigan Betting Pick

Although I faded them in each of their first two contests, I’m going to back the Wolverines to get their third straight cover here.

Given how Michigan’s run defense has played to start the season, I’m expecting the Huskies to be in a decent amount of passing situations. And given my opinion on Lombardi, that doesn’t bode well for the Huskies.

Meanwhile, Northern Illinois defense can’t stop a nosebleed, and Harbaugh is going to run the ball through the Huskies like a hot knife through butter. Plus, I think he’s looking to run up the score all year after more than a few mediocre seasons.

Give me the Wolverines at anything better than -28.

Pick: Michigan -27.5 (Play to -28)

How would you rate this article?