Marathon MAC Football Championship Game
Northern Illinois Huskies vs Ohio Bobcats
Ford Field – Detroit, Michigan
Friday, December 2, 2011, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Northern Illinois -4 1/2
Current Line: Northern Illinois -3 1/2
Opening Total: 65 1/2
Current Total: 69 1/2
Opening Money Line: Northern Illinois -170 / Ohio +150
Current Money Line: Northern Illinois -165 / Ohio +145
The 9-3 Northern Illinois Huskies meet the 9-3 Ohio Bobcats for the MAC title Friday night in Detroit. After a 2-3 start, Northern Illinois has won 7 straight games under first year coach Dave Doeren. Ohio has won 5 straight games under coach Frank Solich. The winner of this game will clinch a spot in the Godaddy.com Bowl against Sun Belt champion Arkansas St. The loser is headed to either the Idaho Famous Potato Bowl in Boise or the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl in Detroit. The 8-4 Toledo Rockets are also in the mix for those two bowls. This is the 19th meeting between NIU and Ohio and the series is tied at 9 games apiece. Ohio won the last meeting 38-31 in Athens in 2009. Ohio has won 5 of the last 6 meetings against Northern Illinois. The two schools have never played in the MAC Championship against each other before. This is the third MAC Championship game in 5 years for Ohio but the Bobcats haven’t won the MAC title since 1968. Northern Illinois is playing in their second straight MAC Championship but hasn’t won the title since 1983.
Last week, Northern Illinois hosted Eastern Michigan. The Huskies were 17.5 point favorites in a game they had to win to clinch the MAC West title. Northern Illinois must have had too much turkey as they were sluggish in the game the day after Thanksgiving. Northern Illinois was only up 12-3 at halftime including a safety in the second quarter. The Huskies held on for the 18-12 win to clinch the division title. Each team went for 2 point conversions in the second half and failed. NIU had only 286 total yards, including 188 rushing yards, and 11 first downs. NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish threw for 98 yards and a touchdown, and had 17 carries f0r 148 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Willie Clark had 2 catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. Eastern Michigan had 280 total yards, including 147 total yards, and 18 first downs.
Northern Illinois averages 488.1 yards a game including 255.2 rushing yards, and 232.8 passing yards. The Huskies are #9 in total offense and #8 in rushing yards per game. NIU is eleventh in scoring offense averaging 39.6 points per game. The Huskies have 14 turnovers and have allowed only 8 sacks this season. Northern Illinois is 87/177 on third and fourth down conversions and 56/62 scoring in the red zone with 41 touchdowns. The Huskies give up 421 yards a game including 239.7 passing yards, and 182.2 rushing yards a game. NIU allows 32 points a game. The Huskies have forced 17 turnovers and 23 sacks. NIU opponents are 88/209 on third and fourth down conversions and 48/53 scoring in the red zone with 37 touchdowns. The Huskies have 4 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season.
Harnish is the leading passer and rusher for Northern Illinois. He is 203/322 passing (63% completion) for 2,692 with 23 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Harnish has 172 carries for 1,351 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Back-up Jordan Lynch has a touchdown pass in 16 attempts and has 2 rushing touchdowns. Running back Jasmin Hopkins has 167 carries, 872 yards, and 15 touchdowns, plus 7 catches and a touchdown reception. Akeem Daniels has 52 carries for 286 yards, with 3 touchdowns, plus 14 catches, 251 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tommylee Lewis has a rushing touchdown and 2 kickoff returns for touchd0wns. Receiver Nathan Palmer has 42 catches, 568 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Martel Moore has 37 catches, 469 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Perez Ashford has 36 catches, 405 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Da’Ron Brown has 21 catches, 311 yards and 2 touchdowns. Clark has 18 catches, 292 yards and 4 touchdowns. Kicker Mathew Sims is 57/58 on extra points and 18/23 on field goals with a long of 44 yards. The Huskies have three linebackers out for the season.
Ohio hosted arch-rival Miami-Ohio last week. The two teams were tied at 7 at halftime. Ohio scored 14 straight points to take a 21-7 lead. Miami scored with just over 6 minutes to play. They got the ball back with around 4 minutes to go, but turned the ball over on downs at the Ohio 25. Ohio escaped with the 21-14 win, but the Bobcats didn’t cover the 7.5 point spread on the college football betting line. Ohio had the only turnover of the game. Both teams missed field goals on their only attempts of the game. Ohio had 435 total yards including 232 rushing yards. Bobcat quarterback Tyler Tettleton threw for 203 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception. Tettleton rushed for 111 yards on 12 carries to lead the team. Running back Donte Harden had 19 carries for 71 yards. Jordan Thompson, Donte Foster, and Riley Dunlop each caught 4 yard touchdown passes from Tettleton. Miami had 433 total yards including 372 passing yards.
Ohio is averaging 461.5 yards a game including 249.8 passing yards and 211.7.8 rushing yards. Ohio is in the top 20 in total offense and rushing yards nationally. The Bobcats score 31.9 points a game. Ohio has 24 turnovers and has allowed 20 sacks this season. The Bobcats are 95/189 on third and fourth down conversions, and 46/57 scoring in the red zone with 29 touchdowns. Ohio gives up 350.7 total yards, including 226.7 passing yards and 124 rushing yards a game. The Bobcats are allowing 22 points a game. Ohio has forced 22 turnovers and 20 sacks this season. Bobcat opponents are 79/200 on third and fourth down conversions, and 32/39 scoring in the red zone with 24 touchdowns. Ohio has 2 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season. The Bobcats average just under 7 penalties a game for 62 yards.
Tettleton is 228/356 passing (64% completion) for 2,868 yards, 26 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, along with 132 carries, 576 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Harden has 153 carries, 866 yards, and 2 touchdowns, along with 21 catches, 216 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Harden has almost 1,600 all purpose yards. Ryan Boykin has 104 carries, 430 yards and a touchdown, along with 14 catches, 92 yards, and a touchdown. Beau Blankenship has 82 carries, 415 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Receiver LaVon Brazill has 56 catches, 918 yards, and 10 touchdown catches, plus a rushing touchdown. Dunlop has 36 catches, 520 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Foster has 27 catches, 320 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Kicker Matt Weller is 43/44 on extra points and 22/30 on field goals with a long of 49 yards. Ohio has 8 players listed as questionable or out for the season, including 3 tight ends and 3 defensive players.
Ohio is 5-7 against the spread and the total is 7-5 this season. Northern Illinois is 5-7 ATS and the total is 7-5 this season. The underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last five games in this series. The Bobcats are 7-1 ATS in Friday games, 6-2 against teams with winning records, 8-3 as an underdog, 1-4 after failing to cover, and in neutral site games. The Huskies are 6-2-1 ATS after allowing 20 points or less, 11-5-1 in conference games, 5-13 against teams with winning records,5-15-1 after scoring 20 points or less, 1-4 in December, and 1-7 in neutral site games.
Both these teams have explosive offenses and Ohio is better on defense. I still think there will lots of points scored in this game. Both these teams rush for over 200 yards a game. Ohio and Northern Illinois are both red hot having won at least 5 games in a row. I like Northern Illinois to win a shootout, but it will be a close game that could come down to the final play.
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