Toledo Rockets and Northern Illinois Huskies Battle for MAC West Title
Toledo Rockets at Northern Illinois Huskies
Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Huskie Stadium – DeKalb, Illinois
Opening Line: NIU -10 1/2
Current Line: NIU -10 1/2
Opening Total: 69
Current Total: 63 1/2
Opening Money Line: NIU -400 / Toledo +330
Current Money Line: NIU -400 / Toledo +330
The 9-1 Northern Illinois Huskies host the 8-2 Toledo Rockets with the MAC West title essentially on the line. This is the third season in a row that the two teams have met late in the season to decide the division The 6-0 Huskies will clinch the division with a win. Toledo is 5-1 and will clinch the division with 2 more wins. If Toledo wins Wednesday and both the Huskies and Rockets lose next week against Akron and Eastern Michigan respectively then Ball State can force a three way tie if they win out. Akron and Eastern Michigan have one win apiece so it is unlikely both could pull off upsets on the same day.
Toledo leads the series 29-10, but NIU has won 2 straight in the series to clinch berths in the MAC Championship game. Last year’s game was memorable because Northern Illinois won a 63-60 shootout in Toledo. The Rockets haven’t played in the MAC Championship game since 2004.
Toledo is led by first year coach Matt Campbell. The Rockets had won 8 straight games since a season opening loss at Arizona 24-17 in overtime. However that streak was snapped last week as they were upset 34-27 by Ball State in Toledo Toledo has home wins over Bowling Green 27-15, Coastal Carolina 38-28, Central Michigan 50-35, and Cincinnati 29-23, along with road wins at Wyoming 34-31, Western Michigan 37-17, Eastern Michigan 52-47 and at Buffalo 25-20. The Rockets are 6-4 ATS and the total is 3-6 this season. Toledo was a 6 point favorite in the Ball State game and the total was 70.5.
Toledo is averaging 461.8 yards per game on offense, including 251.5 passing yards and 210.3 rushing yards per game. The Rockets are outscoring teams 34-27 this season. Toledo is in the top 50 nationally in all offensive categories. The Rockets are +9 in turnovers with 12 giveaways. Toledo is averaging 68.5 yards per game and has allowed 17 sacks. The Rockets are 75/169 on third and fourth down conversions and 34/41 scoring in the red zone with 19 touchdowns. On defense, Toledo is allowing 463.1 yards per game including 287 passing yards and 176.1 rushing yards. The Rockets are #106 in total defense, #116 in pass defense, #81 against the rush but #64 in scoring defense. This is mainly because the Rockets have forced 21 turnovers and 19 sacks. Toledo opponents are 58/154 on third and fourth down conversions and 25/36 scoring in the red zone with 17 touchdowns. The Rockets have 8 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season.
Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens has completed 187 of 301 passes (62.1%) for 2,412 yards with 15 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with 87 carries, 330 yards and 4 touchdowns. Running back David Fluellen has 230 carries, 1,381 yards and 12 touchdowns, along with 26 catches for 191 yards. Cassius McDowell has 65 carries, 338 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 17 catches, 145 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Bernard Reedy has 68 catches, 901 yards and 6 touchdowns. He is one of the best return men in the country with 2 kickoff returns and a punt return for touchdowns. He has 1,700 all-purpose yards. Alonzo Russell has 44 catches, 766 yards and 3 touchdowns. Other than the running backs, no other Rocket receiver has more than 15 catches.
Northern Illinois is coached by Dave Doeren. The Huskies have won 9 straight games since a season opening loss to Iowa 18-17 in Chicago. NIU has home wins over Tennessee-Martin 35-7, Kansas 30-23, Central Michigan 55-24, Buffalo 45-3, and last week against Massachusetts 63-0. The Huskies have road wins at Army 41-40, Ball St 35-23, Akron 37-7, and Western Michigan 48-34. NIU is 8-1-1 ATS and the total is 4-5 this season. The Huskies easily covered the 35 point spread against winless UMass and went over the 58 point total by themselves.
Northern Illinois is averaging 478 yards per game on offense, including 227.1 passing yards and 250.9 rushing yards. The Huskies are outscoring teams 41-18 this season. NIU is #20 nationally in total offense, #10 in rushing, #9 in scoring and #15 in points allowed. The Huskies are +7 in turnovers with 12 giveaways. NIU averages 58.4 penalty yards per game and has allowed 9 sacks. The Huskies are 81/159 on third and fourth down conversions and 41/51 scoring in the red zone with 37 touchdowns. On defense, the Huskies are allowing 375.6 yards per game, including 224.2 passing and 151.4 rushing yards. NIU has forced 30 sacks and 19 turnovers. Huskie opponents are 84/198 on third and fourth down conversions and 21/34 scoring in the red zone with 14 touchdowns.
NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch is the leading rusher and passer for the Huskies. He has completed 162 of 258 passes (62.8%) for 2,175 yards with 19 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Lynch also has 185 carries, 1,342 yards and 16 touchdowns. His numbers are actually better than presumptive Heisman favorite quarterback Collin Klein from Kansas St. Running back Leighton Settle has 101 carries, 453 yards, and 5 touchdowns, along with 4 catches for 20 yards. He is questionable with an undisclosed injury. Keith Harris, Jr. has 55 carries, 226 yards and 4 touchdowns. Akeem Daniels has 28 carries, 161 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 11 catches, 104 yards and 2 touchdowns. Receiver Martel Moore has 51 catches, 746 yards and 8 touchdowns. Tommylee Harris has 32 catches, 394 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 13 carries, 83 yards and a touchdown. Perez Ashford is questionable with an ankle injury. He has 19 catches for 229 yards. No other Huskie receiver has more than 13 catches. Four members of the NIU secondary are listed as questionable Wednesday night.
Toledo is 16-6 ATS after failing to cover, 2-5 against teams with winning records, and 0-6 after a bye week. The Rockets are 9-4-1 ATS in the last 14 meetings against Northern Illinois. The underdog si 7-3 ATS in this series recently, and the over is 3-1-1 in the last 5.
Northern Illinois is 6-0 ATS in MAC games, 6-0-1 at home, after a straight up win and on fieldturf, 5-0 after rushing for 200 yards or more, 4-0 against teams with winning records, 3-0-1 after scoring more than 40 points, and after allowing less than 170 passing yards, 12-3-1 after gaining more than 450 yards, 9-1-1 overall, 7-1 after allowing less than 275 yards, 4-1 against teams with winning road records, 15-5-1 after a cover, 6-2 in November, and 9-4-1 after allowing less than 20 points. The home team has covered 4 of the last 5 in this series.
Northern Illinois has been a little under the radar this season, but they could be the best team in a deep MAC. The Huskies are the defending MAC champs after all. Kent St fans might disagree but that could be settled in a couple of weeks in the MAC Championship game. First things first though. The Huskies need to take care of business against a very good Toledo team. I think 10.5 points might be a little much in this game, but I do think the Huskies win a close shootout. I don’t know if they will score 123 points like they did last year, but there should be plenty of points scored.
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