The Northern Illinois Huskies look to keep their MAC title hopes alive as they visit the Central Michigan Chippewas. Kickoff is at noon EST on Friday, November 25 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Fans can watch the game on CBS Sports Network.
Oddsmakers view the Huskies as 3-point favorites on the road. The over/under is set at 53.5 points. Click here for a full list of Week 13 betting odds and links to game previews.
Northern Illinois vs Central Michigan Game Betting Preview & Vegas Odds
At 8-3 and 6-1 in conference play, the Huskies are clinging to slim hopes of winning the MAC West division and playing in the conference title game. NIU needs to beat Central Michigan and hope that Toledo loses to Western Michigan. Otherwise, the Huskies will sit out the MAC Championship Game and wait for their bowl game.
Meanwhile, Central Michigan can’t reach the MAC title game, but they could still win a share of the West division. After winning their last four games, the Chippewas are 7-4 and 5-2 in MAC play. If they beat NIU and Toledo loses, they would be part of a three-way tie atop the West division. Central Michigan also has a three-game winning streak against Northern Illinois that they would like to keep going.
Free College Football Against the Spread Pick: Central Michigan +3
My early lean in this game is toward Central Michigan. The Chippewas have built up a lot of momentum over the past month, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. If they’re able to force NIU into a shootout, they’ll have the advantage, so I’ll side with the home underdog in this game.
Senior quarterback Shane Morris is playing some of his best football at the end of his career. During CMU’s current four-game winning streak, he has thrown 11 touchdowns and just one interception. He’s even becoming more of a threat running the ball.
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The rest of the CMU offense is also playing their best down the stretch. Running back Jonathan Ward has scored six touchdowns in his last four games, rushing for at least 80 yards in each of those four games. The Chippewas also have a great wide receiver tandem with Mark Chapman and Corey Willis that has been tough for most MAC defenses to contain this year. The result is a team that’s averaging nearly 44 points per game over their last four games.
To be fair, the Huskies have one of the best defenses in the MAC. On the season, NIU is holding teams to just under 20 points per game. However, against some of the better offensive teams in the MAC like Toledo and Western Michigan, the Huskies haven’t been at their best. With the way Morris has played lately, I can see CMU having success against the NIU defense and pushing the score into the 20s and 30s.
Of course, the NIU offense can score points too. The Huskies have had a good season under freshman quarterback Marcus Childers. But the Huskies are better equipped to move the ball on the ground than they are throwing the ball downfield. If the NIU defense can’t get stops, it could force the Huskies into the uncomfortable position of having to throw the ball to keep up with the Chippewas.
Ultimately, I think that Central Michigan being the more balanced offensive team will help give them an edge. The Chippewas are also the home team, making it a little easy to lean toward CMU in such a close matchup.