Toledo-Northern Illinois Betting Preview: A Matchup of Polar Opposite Teams

Toledo-Northern Illinois Betting Preview: A Matchup of Polar Opposite Teams article feature image

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Marcus Childers and Art Thompkins

Toledo-Northern Illinois Betting Odds, Pick

  • Odds: Northern Illinois -3.5
  • Over/Under: 55.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN2

Toledo and Northern Illinois will play a fascinating MAC matchup on Wednesday, pitting one of the league’s best offenses against unquestionably its best defense.

NIU can just about wrap up the MAC West with a victory, while Toledo would need some help, even with a win.

>> All odds as of 11 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets

Market Moves for Toledo-Northern Illinois

By Steve Petrella

Despite getting the majority of the bets, Toledo has gone from +1.5 to +3. The total has also gone up from 53.5 to 55.

NIU Dominant in First Half

By Steve Petrella

Northern Illinois is 7-2 against the first-half spread this season, but just 3-6 ATS in the second half. The Huskies defense can always keep it close early, but the offense isn’t built to play catch-up.

In three of its four non-conference games against good competition — Iowa, Utah, BYU — the score was exactly 3-0 at halftime.

If Toledo gets a lead early, don’t count on NIU to narrow the gap.

NIU’s Defense Is Great, But Can the Huskies Score?

By Collin Wilson

There are major advantages in the explosiveness department for Toledo. The Rockets have been lethal with pass explosiveness, ranking seventh in the nation between quarterbacks Eli Peters and Mitchell Guadagni.

The Huskies do have a stout defense, led by defensive end Sutton Smith’s 14 tackles for loss, eight sacks and 16 run stuffs. The issue with Northern Illinois is against the pass, ranking 83rd against explosiveness in passing downs and defensive back havoc rate of 114th.

But Northern Illinois has been abominable on offense, ranking 122nd in offensive S&P+, while putting up 24 points or fewer in all but two games.

Toledo has played better defense of late, specifically ranking 26th in passing downs sack rate. That should be enough against a Northern Illinois offensive line that ranks 116th in the same category.

A Matchup of Polar Opposites

By Stuckey

This is a classic offense vs. defense matchup. They’re two opposite teams in every sense — Toledo’s offense ranks 28th in yards per play (6.3) vs. NIU’s defense that ranks 14th in yards per play (4.7).

NIU’s offense ranks dead last in IsoPPP+, a measure of explosiveness. The Huskies are 128th in yards per play on offense (4.2), while Toledo is 94th on defense (6.0).

Where there is strength on strength is offensive line vs. defensive line in the rushing game. Toledo’s line actually ranks in the top 10 in a number of rushing stats and NIU’s defense does everything well.

If Toledo can establish the run on first and second down and avoid third-and-long situations, it can avoid that NIU pass rush.

NIU ranks 11th in adjusted sack rate and has totaled 32 sacks, which is tied with Clemson for second in the nation (trailing Oklahoma State by one).

The loss of starting quarterback Mitch Guadagni will hurt because he has wheels and it will take away one weapon of their offense, though Eli Peters has been good throwing the ball in his place.

Bet to Watch

By Stuckey

I actually think there is some value with the Rockets here, whose +0.3 yards per play differential dwarfs NIU’s -0.5. NIU has benefited from some good fortune this season, especially in the turnover department, as well.

Don’t sleep on the special teams advantage Toledo will have in this game. Per S&P, the Rockets have the 22nd best unit, while NIU ranks 121st.

The Pick: I’ll be on Toledo small.

Trends to Know

By John Ewing

Northern Illinois has moved from -1.5 to -3 at home against Toledo. Be careful chasing that line movement.

Since 2005, when the line has moved at least one point toward the home team in MAC games, the road team has gone 132-89-4 (60%) ATS per Bet Labs.

By Evan Abrams

Through three games at Huskie Stadium in 2018 for Northern illinois, the under is 3-0, going under the total by 13.2 PPG. In addition, the forecast is calling for temperatures around 30 degrees with some wind.

Since 2005, 11 games have been played at Huskie Stadium with a temperature below 40 degrees. The under is 8-3 (72.7%), making the Huskies at home the most profitable team to the under in these conditions.

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