Northern Illinois Huskies (-7, 56 o/u) vs. Bowling Green Falcons
The MAC title game might not be as flashy as the championship games in other conferences. Nonetheless, the duel between the Northern Illinois Huskies and Bowling Green Falcons should be fun to watch. The teams will square off on Friday at Ford Field in Detroit (7:00 p.m. Eastern).
The Huskies have an impressive 10-2 record (7-1 MAC) and have won their last six in a row, including a 31-21 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos in their last outing.
Northern Illinois success this season is no surprise. The Huskies have been the class of the MAC for the last several seasons, winning two of the last three MAC titles and reaching the championship game five years running (including this year).
However, the Falcons got the better of the Huskies in last year’s title game, 47-27. Despite last year’s setback, the Huskies are a confident group heading into the game.
“That group has been through a lot,” NIU coach Rod Carey said of his returning players. “And have they improved? Absolutely. But they are certainly not done yet, in any way, shape or form. … We’ve got some work left to do.”
“We’ve improved a lot over the course of this season. We feel more comfortable now,” senior NIU offensive lineman Aiden Conlon added. “We don’t need any more motivation. There’s enough juice going around just because we’re playing for this championship again.”
Bowling Green has a 7-5 record (5-3 MAC) but has lost its last two (against Toledo and Ball State); even with those two losses, they wound up on top of the extremely even MAC East. (Five of the seven teams in the division finished within two games of each other.)
“We’re excited about the matchup, ” Bowling Green coach Dino Babers said. “We think we have earned the right to be here. We have the opportunity to right some wrongs.”
While Babers may feel his team deserves to be in the title game, the matchup with NIU is a tough one for the Falcons. The Huskies have a run-first offense that averages nearly 250 yards per game on the ground (18th in the nation); meanwhile, the Falcons have struggled to stop the run all year, allowing almost 200 yards per game (96th in the country).
In recognition of the matchup problems for the Falcons, Northern Illinois is a seven-point favorite. The over/under is at 56.
(Photo credit: User:JSnyderBGSU (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)