The Boston College Eagles kick off their 2017 football season with a rare away game against a non-power 5 school, as they face the Northern Illinois Huskies. The two teams kick off at 9:30 EST on Friday, September 1, at Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, Illinois. The game is being broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
Oddsmakers have made Boston College the favorites, with the Eagles being a 2-point road favorite with a total of 46 points. However, initial betting action has favored Northern Illinois slightly, as the Eagles opened at 2.5-point favorites. Click here for a full list of Week 1 betting odds.
Northern Illinois vs. Boston College Vegas Game Odds & Game Preview
This game matches up two teams that are trying to move their way up the pecking in their respective conferences but that also finished the 2016 season strong. Boston College won three of its last four regular season games last season to become bowl eligible. That includes conference road wins against N.C. State and Wake Forest. The Eagles then beat Maryland in the Quick Lane Bowl to finish 7-6.
With head coach Steve Addazio entering his fifth season in Chestnut Hill, the hope is that the program has been stabilized and that the Eagles are finally ready to start moving up the food chain in a ridiculously hard ACC Atlantic division.
The Huskies are in a similar position, as Rod Carey is also entering his fifth season as head coach after taking over for Dave Doeren following the team’s Orange Bowl appearance in 2012. After winning 31 games in his first three seasons at the helm, Carey and the Huskies took a step backward in 2016, going 5-7.
However, the Huskies won four of their final five games in 2016 to close out the season strong and create some momentum heading into this season. Northern Illinois also had two losses that came in triple overtime last year, so they were not far away from being a bowl team.
Free College Football ATS Selection: Boston College -2
This is a tough game to handicap, especially being the season opener for both teams, but I would lean toward Boston College. The Eagles are still trying to figure things out at quarterback between senior Darius Wade and redshirt freshman Anthony Brown. However, regardless of who ends of being Boston College’s quarterback, Addazio is going to want to run the ball and control the game at the line of scrimmage.
The Eagles bring back two proven running backs in Jon Hillman and Davon Jones, as well as an offensive line that was a little young last year but will be much more experienced this season. Meanwhile, the Huskies have several starters to replace on their defensive front-7, not to mention depth issues up front. This could end up being a classic case of a power-5 offensive line being too big and strong for the defensive line of a non-power 5 school.
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Offensively, Northern Illinois has its own quarterback situation to sort out, in addition to a young and largely unproven set of wide receivers. That could make the Huskies one-dimensional against a Boston College defense that was quite stout last season, at least when the Eagles weren’t playing ranked teams. The Boston College defense returns a proven duo at linebacker in Connor Strachan and Ty Schwab, as well as a potential first round pick in defensive end Harold Landry, so they’ll be tough no matter who ends up being the Northern Illinois quarterback.
Even on the road, Boston College is the far more reliable pick in this game. With a 2-point spread, this game is basically a toss-up in the eyes of oddsmakers, and on paper, the Eagles appear far more prepared to win their season opener.
The total points bet of 46 is also intriguing for this game. Neither side has an explosive offense, and if the Eagles are able to control the ball on the ground, it’ll lead to fewer possessions and a low-scoring game. This game could be a good opportunity to take the under.