MAC Championship- Bowling Green vs. Northern Illinois (Pick against the spread 12-4)
On Friday the Bowling Green State Falcons and Northern Illinois Huskies will meet for the third consecutive year in the Mid-American Conference championship game. The Huskies have built a bit of a dynasty in the Mid-American conference, as Friday will be their sixth consecutive title game, with the Huskies winning three of the last five years.
Vegas and everyone loves Bowling Green in this game. The Falcons have the most explosive offense in the MAC, averaging over 44 points per game. BG is led by quarterback Matt Johnson, who comes in with 41:6 touchdown to interceptions ratio.
In 2013, Matt Johnson led Bowling Green to a 47-27 championship victory over a then #16 ranked and undefeated Northern Illinois team. The Huskies returned the favor last year with a 51-17 victory, but quarterback Matt Johnson did not play in the Falcon defeat due to an injury he suffered the first week of the season.
There are several reasons why I believe Northern Illinois can win this game. First, the Huskies have championship experience and will not back down from the moment. Despite being a 12.5 point underdog NIU has not suffered a loss by more than 10 points this season, which includes a seven point loss at Ohio State. NIU has been in big games before and stepped up.
Northern Illinois continues to reach the MAC Championship because it has mastered the formula of betting rival Toledo, a team that dominated the Falcon’s 44-28. Toledo was able to control the game with Bowling Green, behind a strong rushing attack. Northern Illinois comes in tied with Toledo for first in the MAC averaging 213 rushing yards per game. Bowling Green is also worst in the conference in penalties committed. If the Huskies can run the ball and control the clock, while eliminating turnover, then they can win this game. The Bowling Green secondary has also shown vulnerability this season, ranking 11th in the conference in passing yards allowed per game.
Overall, I do see the Falcon’s winning this game. Bowling Green comes in with a much better passing attack then any of the teams NIU has defeated this season and will test the Huskies secondary. Northern Illinois will have to control the clock behind running back Joel Bouagnon, and consistently match Bowling Green’s firepower with touchdowns of their own to win this game. With back-up Freshman quarterback Ryan Graham now running things for NIU, due to the injury of Drew Hare in the Toledo game, I don’t see the Huskies matching Bowling Green’s fire power for 60 minutes.
While Matt Johnson will be the highlighted name coming into this game, the Falcons can run the ball well too. Running backs Travis Greene and Fred Coppet, give BGSU a nice one-two punch that will keep the NIU defense honest.
I felt that I had to predict this game, but it is not my personal favorite to bet on this weekend. I like Bowling Green a lot but the 12.5 spread scares me alittle, similar to the 9 point favorite Bowling Green was over Toledo. NIU has proven itself to be the class of the MAC in recent years and can not be counted out. The Huskies are 2-0 as an underdog against the spread this season, while the Falcons are 7-2 as favorites. Not crazy about the large spread in this game but I believe Bowling Green rolls along -12.5.
(Bowling Green 41 Northern Illinois 27)