College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions: Your Betting Guide for Western Michigan vs. Northern Illinois

College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions: Your Betting Guide for Western Michigan vs. Northern Illinois article feature image

Justin Casterline/Getty Images. Pictured: The Northern Illinois Huskies.

Western Michigan vs. Northern Illinois Odds

Tuesday, Nov. 23
7 p.m. ET
Western Michigan Odds
-105o / -115u
Northern Illinois Odds
-105o / -115u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

It was fun while it lasted, but midweek MACtion wraps with the regular-season finale between two teams that have been on complete opposite sides of their preseason expectations.

Northern Illinois has already won the MAC West and will head to Ford Field in Detroit to compete for the conference title. With a one-game lead in the division, all tiebreakers favor the Huskies, making this last game in DeKalb irrelevant for conference and bowl season purposes.

The Huskies have won six conference games by a combined 25 points.

Western Michigan entered the season as one of the division challengers but has lost three of the past four conference games.

Inconsistency in defending the explosive play and special teams have led to struggles against Akron and Eastern Michigan, but when the Broncos are on, they're as good as any team in the MAC with evidence coming in the form of a 33-point demolition of Kent State.

The Broncos enter this game at 6-5 on the season with our Brett McMurphy projecting a Camellia Bowl trip on Christmas.

Not all six-win teams make the postseason. When enough college football teams qualify, it's the MAC teams that stay home. Head coach Tim Lester had this experience as a 6-6 team in the 2017 season that resulted in no bowl trip. A seventh win for the Broncos will guarantee a postseason trip.

Western Michigan Broncos

The Broncos have one of the most successful rushing attacks in the nation, ranking 16th in Success Rate and 15th in Line Yards. Lester runs 63% of snaps out of the 11 formations with a pivot to an empty-back set on 20% of offensive attempts.

The 10 formations are run in passing downs when second and third downs fall behind schedule. Quarterback Kaleb Eleby has targeted running backs Sean Tyler and La'Darius Jefferson on 40% of third downs.

The most dangerous weapon on the team is wide receiver Skyy Moore.

Kaleb Eleby drops a dime to his favorite target Skyy Moore for the opening TD of the game. The Broncos strike first.


— CFB Blitz (@BlitzCfb) November 17, 2021

The Broncos can be lethal on passing downs with a rank of 18th in explosiveness. With the offense capable of scoring from any yard marker on the field, Western Michigan has had the same issues with explosiveness on the defensive side of the ball.

The Broncos are 122nd in defensive pass expected points and 127th in standard downs explosiveness. The genesis of the busted plays come in coverage and tackling, both ranking outside the top 100. Western Michigan has given up as many 50-plus yard plays as almost any team in the country.

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Northern Illinois Huskies

Head coach Thomas Hammock has done a complete 180 in his third season with the Huskies. Former coach Rod Carey left for Temple, and Hammock was hired after five years as the running backs coach for the Baltimore Ravens.

Northern Illinois went 5-7 during 2019 before a winless six-game pandemic-shortened 2020. Fast forward to the present, and Northern Illinois has comfortably won the MAC West and will head to Detroit for the conference championship next week.

Northern Illinois has the biggest discrepancy in actual game-winning percentage versus post-game win expectancy at 24%, indicating the Huskies should be more like a four-win team.

Hammock runs both 11 and 12 formations with heavy tendencies toward the rush. The Huskies are top-25 in Rushing Success Rate and Line Yards, but a drop to 47th in Passing Downs Success Rate shows quarterback Rocky Lombardi's struggles when the offense is behind schedule.

.@rocky_lombardi with a beauty to @cole_tucker15 for the 58-yard Touchdown! @NIU_Football |

— #MACtion (@MACSports) November 11, 2021

Similar to Western Michigan, there are defensive issues with Northern Illinois, particularly in defending the explosive rush.

The 4-2-5 scheme has had success in preventing pass explosiveness, but opponents are moving the chains with ease. Northern Illinois ranks in the bottom-10 nationally in Standard Downs Success Rate defensively with a rank of 118th in Finishing Drives.

There has been plenty of turnover luck for the Huskies through the 2021 season.

I stand corrected, this is Northern Illinois 2021 season in one

— Collin Wilson (@_Collin1) November 18, 2021

Western Michigan vs. Northern Illinois Matchup Analysis

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

Western Michigan Offense vs. Northern Illinois Defense
Rush Success14126
Line Yards14129
Pass Success5374
Pass Blocking**105116
Big Play63108
Finishing Drives51121
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Northern Illinois Offense vs. Western Michigan Defense
Rush Success2160
Line Yards1322
Pass Success3915
Pass Blocking**7415
Big Play56102
Finishing Drives2868
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling10043
Middle 871109
SP+ Special Teams13072
Plays per Minute105102
Rush Rate59.7% (32)63.% (14)

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

Western Michigan vs. Northern Illinois Betting Pick

Handicapping Week 13 is similar to bowl season, as statistics and mathematics may take a back seat to motivation.

In this case, Western Michigan will secure a spot in the post-season with a win. For Northern Illinois, a trip to the MAC Championship should be signal that the final home game is not important.

Hammock reiterated to the team this past Friday night the goals of 2021 — more importantly, getting revenge on every team from NIU's 2020 schedule, including Western Michigan.

The Broncos have a top-10 rank in Stuff Rate on both sides of the ball. A top-25 rank in Offensive Standard Downs Success Rate against Northern Illinois' defensive mark should put Western Michigan in scoring position often.

The advantages Western Michigan has on offense are erased with defending explosive plays and a Special Teams SP+ rank that is dead last in the nation. Specifically, punt and kickoff efficiency are the worst in the nation, leading to excellent opponent field position or touchdowns.

The Action Network projections for this game are a pick on the spread with a total of 53.5. Even with the chance of explosive plays, these teams are 104th and 96th in tempo.

The Northern Illinois season has been filled with low post-game win expectancies, but the market has overreacted to the overlook to the MAC Championship.

Considering there is value in the total and side, a rare midweek under and underdog are the best bets, as the Huskies revenge tour comes to a close.

Pick: Under 62 or Better · Northern Illinois +4 or Better

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