Northern Illinois vs Kent State Line
The 17th-ranked Kent State Golden Flashes (11-1) take on the 21st-ranked Northern Illinois Huskies Friday night at Ford Field in the MAC championship game. Oddsmakers believe Northern Illinois has the edge. They have listed the Huskies as a five-point favorite and have set the total at 60.0.
Why Northern Illinois Covers
Nerves don’t figure to be an issue for Northern Illinois. The Huskies defeated the Ohio Bobcats 23-20 at Ford field to claim the MAC title last season.
Northern Illinois has completely dominated Kent State. It has won its last five meetings with the Golden Flashes both straight up and against the spread, including a 40-10 victory last season as a 14.5-point favorite. These five wins have come by an average of 20.6 points with each coming by at least seven points.
The Huskies have been a terrific investment this season. Their only defeat came by one point in the first game of the season. Since then, they have won 11 in a row by an average of 22.0 points. Each of their last nine victories have come by at least seven points. Northern Illinois is 8-3-1 against the spread in all games this season.
The numbers suggest Northern Illinois is the superior team on both sides of the football. The Huskies rank 12th in the nation in scoring with 40.5 points per game while the Golden Flashes rank 35th with 34.4 points per game. Northern Illinois ranks 16th in total offense with 482.6 yards per game while Kent State ranks 63rd with 402.2 yards per game.
The Huskies rank 15th in scoring defense with 17.5 points allowed per game while the Golden Flashes rank 37th with 23.5 points allowed per contest. Northern Illinois ranks 37th in total defense with 364.9 yards allowed per game while Kent State ranks 76th with 409.9 yards allowed per game.
Why Kent State Covers
Northern Illinois has been a good investment this year, but Kent State has been an even better investment. The Golden Flashes have covered the spread in 10 of their 12 games this season. They are 14-3 against the spread in their last 17 games dating back to last season.
Kent State has won each of its last 10 games by an average of 14.4 points and is 9-1 against the number in these contests. It has covered the number in each of its last four games versus teams that have a winning record.
It is significant that Kent State enters off an impressive 28-6 victory over Ohio. That’s because the Golden Flashes are a perfect 7-0 against the spread going back to last season following a win by 10 points or more over a conference opponent. They have won by an average score of 34.6 to 26.0 in these games. Also, they are 6-0 against the spread in their last six games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game.
The team that wins the turnover battle often wins the game. If this holds true, one has to like Kent State’s chances. The Golden Flashes have forced 35 turnovers while only committing 15 while the Huskies have forced 24 and have committed 15.
Northern Illinois typically hasn’t been a good bet in neutral field contests. It failed to cover the 3.5-point spread in last season’s MAC championship game and is just 3-8 against the spread in its last 11 neutral site battles.