This Friday the Buffalo Bulls (10-2) will host the Northern Illinois Huskies (7-5) in the MAC Championship Game. Kickoff is set for 7:00 EST at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Oddsmakers opened this line up at Buffalo -3.5. Several books are still on that number, though some have jumped the Bulls up to -4. The total is currently 49.5 points. Click here for a full betting schedule and for more links to our individual game previews.
Vegas Betting Preview & Game odds: Northern Illinois vs Buffalo
The Huskies head into the title game looking to shake-off back-to-back losses to end the regular season. Northern Illinois lost 28-21 at Western Michigan last Tuesday as a 6.5-point favorite and the week before fell 13-7 at home to Miami, OH. Prior to these two hiccups the Huskies had won 6 straight games and were 7-3 with their only 3 losses coming to Iowa, Utah and Florida State.
Buffalo bounced back from an ugly 52-17 loss at Ohio to clinch the MAC East division with a 44-14 blowout win at Bowling Green. The Bulls were without question one of the biggest surprise out of the conference, as no one was picking Buffalo to be in this game when the season started. Hard to believe that just two years ago the script was flipped and the Bulls had ended the year at 2-10. Quite a job head coach Lance Leipold has done in his 4 years on the job.
The Huskies are a perfect 10-0 in the series dating back to 1999, but have had a few close calls along the way, including a mere 14-13 win at Buffalo last year as a 8-point favorite.
Free College Football Pick & Betting Predictions: Buffalo -3.5
My early lean here would be to lay the points with the Bulls. I just think Buffalo is hands down the more talented team and that’s no disrespect to Northern Illinois. I think the numbers really speak for themselves.
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Buffalo outscored opponents in conference play by 10.9 ppg and outgained them by 88.1 ypg. Northern Illinois outscored opponents by 5.3 ppg and outgained them by 38 ypg. Some might want to point to that ugly loss for the Bulls down the stretch to Ohio (who lost to Northern Illinois), but note that the Bulls were in a position to lose that game and still win the division in a very favorable matchup with Bowling Green.
I get that the Huskies last two losses can be pinpointed to them already having the MAC West on lock, but I just don’t like teams that lay down at the end of the season and just expect to flip a switch in a massive game like this.
The biggest thing for me is I just don’t think Northern Illinois’ offense can keep pace in this one. Buffalo has shown they are capable of annihilating defenses if they aren’t ready. They got a special player in junior quarter back Tyree Jackson and a potent 1-2 punch out of the backfield in Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks, who have combined for 1,607 yards and 23 touchdowns (Jackson also has 7 rushing touchdowns).
It’s going to take a perfect game-plan here for the Huskies just to keep this game competitive. I also think people are sleeping on Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold and his ability to guide his team to victory in big games. The guy went 109-6 in 8 years at Div III power Wisconsin-Whitewater, playing for the national championship in 7 of those 8 years and winning it 6 times.
Bulls are 8-1 ATS in their last 9 games against MAC opponent, while Northern Illinois is a mere 4-16-1 ATS in their last 21 games played on a neutral site and 0-6 ATS in their 6 games under head coach Rod Carey as a neutral site underdog. Give me the Bulls -3.5.