Northern Illinois vs. Kent State +8
Some unexpected intrigue looms when Northern Illinois takes on Kent State in the MAC Championship game at Ford Field in Detroit. Both teams are right on the edge of cracking the top 16 in the BCS rankings, meaning that the winner of this game could very well find themselves in a BCS bowl this January. This is definitely some added motivation in a game where the winner normally earns an invitation to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl – hardly a big reward.
Both teams come into this game on a roll. Northern Illinois has won 11 straight after an opening week loss to Iowa. The Huskies have also won 16 straight conference games dating back to this year. NIU has rolled over their opponents winning by an average margin of 23 points per game. Kent State comes in at 11-1 with their only loss coming in a non-conference game against Kentucky.
Looking at the numbers, NIU appears to have a slight advantage statistically. Both teams are fantastic when it comes to running the ball with the Huskies ranked 8th and Kent State ranked 10th nationally in rushing yards and both do a decent job of stopping the run – NIU ranked 44th, Kent State ranked 27th. The big difference between these teams comes in the passing offense/defense. Northern Illinois averages a respectable 237 yards passing per game while giving up an average of 220 yards per game through the air. The Golden Flashes of Kent State have struggled mightily in the passing game, putting up about 160 yards through the air each game while giving up a whopping 282 yards to opposing quarterbacks.
What will happen: In quite possibly the biggest game in the history of the Mid-American Conference, two evenly matched, red-hot teams have a chance to do something never been done by their peers in making a BCS bowl game. NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch will be able to move the ball with ease indoors on a fast track against a Kent State secondary full of holes. All signs point to an easy NIU win, but I say, “not so fast, my friend,” Kent State hasn’t played in a bowl game in decades and they are one win away from likely playing in a BCS bowl game. Both teams have a lot of motivation for a game that should be a tossup. Take the points.
Prediction: Northern Illinois 31 Kent State 28
The Play: Kent State +8 (5Dimes.eu)
YTD Record: 16-13