The Northern Illinois Huskies (1-0) travel to Salt Lake City this weekend to battle the Utah Utes (1-0). Kickoff is set for 1:00 PM EST on Saturday, September 7th at Rice-Eccles Stadium and the game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.
Taking a look at the Week 2 college football odds, Utah opened as a 23-point home favorite earlier this week. That line has yet to move at all after early betting, as the Utes are currently listed at -23. The total for the game is sitting at 44 points.
Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: Utah vs Northern Illinois
Northern Illinois managed to grind out a win in their home opener over Illinois State last weekend, scoring a critical touchdown in the third quarter en route to a 24-10 victory. The Huskies offense really turned it on down the stretch, especially QB Ross Bowers who was 20/33 for 299 yards and two touchdowns. Bowers certainly had a ton of help from star Tyrice Richie, as the wideout finished the game with 102 receiving yards and two touchdowns on just three catches. Northern Illinois also got a big boost on the ground from RB Tre Harbison in his usual workhorse role. Harbison scampered for 99 yards on a game-high 23 carries and was solid throughout despite failing to find the end zone. As a whole, the NIU offense scored two touchdowns and gained over 400 total yards.
The Huskies defense looked above average in Week 1, although a large part of that was likely due to the relatively easy matchup against Illinois State. Northern Illinois was especially dominant on the ground, allowing the Redbirds to rush for just 51 total yards combined while also keeping them out of the end zone.
Utah is now undefeated in the Holy War since 2009 after beating BYU 30-12 on the road in Week 1. The Utes looked very impressive on both sides of the ball, especially on defense where they managed to score two separate touchdowns on interception returns. QB Tyler Huntley was efficient but unspectacular, going 13/16 for 106 yards while also adding 39 rushing yards on eight attempts. RB Zack Moss was a force to be reckoned with on the ground, racking up 187 rushing yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. Overall, the Utah offense put up over 300 total yards and scored two touchdowns in the victory.
As mentioned previously, the Utes were fantastic defensively in Week 1. Not only did they do a great job against a strong Cougars rushing attack, they also scored two touchdowns and forced multiple turnovers. Utah also didn’t give up a single touchdown through the air against BYU, something they will hope to repeat here in Week 2 at home.
NCAA Football Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Northern Illinois +23
Utah shouldn’t have too much trouble winning their second consecutive game to start the year this weekend, especially since Zack Moss looks to already be in mid-season form. However, NIU is a solid team that managed to stay within two touchdown of a pretty similar Utes roster in 2018. Even though I think the Huskies will fall well short on Saturday, I do like them to stay within 23-points of a patient, methodical Utah squad. Tyler Huntley isn’t exactly an explosive quarterback, especially when leading a run-first offense that is all about clock control and game management. Ross Bowers and Tyrice Richie have enough big play potential to help keep this matchup interesting, while Tre Harbison and his 20+ carries should help keep the Utes offense of the field for a decent amount of time as well.
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It is also worth noting how well Northern Illinois has performed against the spread as of late when they are on the road against teams with a winning home record. The Huskies are a very impressive 12-3-1 ATS over that time span, which really pushes me in the direction of taking all of the free points in this particular spot. I’m fully expecting for that tenacity on the road against quality opponents to continue here in Week 2, as NIU should put up a very solid fight and manage to stay within 2-3 touchdowns of a quality Utah team. I’ll take the Huskies to grind out a cover on the road!