Ball State Cardinals at Northern Illinois Huskies
Huskie Stadium – DeKalb, Illinois
Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Northern Illinois -5 1/2
Current Line: Northern Illinois -7 1/2 (+105)
Opening Total: 72 1/2
Current Total: 72
Opening Money Line: NIU -220 / Ball State +180
Current Money Line: NIU -290 / Ball State +245
The Northern Illinois Huskies are one of six undefeated teams left in FBS football along with Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, Baylor and Fresno State. The Huskies are #15 in the latest BCS standings with a 9-0 record. Northern Illinois is trying to go back to a BCS bowl for the second straight year after losing to Florida State in the Orange Bowl last year.
The Huskies have more pressing goals right now though. NIU is 5-0 in the MAC West. They trail the division by a half game over the 6-0 Ball State Cardinals. The Cardinals are 9-1 this season as they travel to Northern Illinois for a showdown that will likely decide who plays in the MAC Championship game. Although 4-1 Toledo could factor in as well.
Ball State leads the series 20-18-2 against Northern Illinois including 12-8-2 in DeKalb. The Huskies have won four straight games in the series including 35-23 in Muncie last season.
Ball State is coached by Pete Lembo. The only loss for the Cardinals came at North Texas 34-27. Ball State has won seven straight games since then. The Cardinals have home wins over Illinois State 51-28, Army 40-14, Toledo 31-24, Kent State 27-24, and last week against Central Michigan 44-24, along with road wins at Eastern Michigan 51-20, Virginia 48-27, Western Michigan 38-17, and at Akron 42-24. Ball State is 7-3 ATS and the total is 6-4 this season. The Cardinals were 21 point favorites against Central Michigan and the total was 58.5.
Ball State took a 31-3 lead at halftime against Central Michigan. The Cardinals expanded the lead to 41-10 in the third quarter. Central Michigan would outscore Ball State 14-3 in the fourth to get inside the 21 point spread and make the final 44-24. The Cardinals had 549 total yards including 299 passing and 250 rushing yards. The Chippewas had 397 total yards including 284 passing yards. Central Michigan had 3 turnovers and 6 penalties for 65 yards.
Ball State is outscoring teams 40-24 this season. The Cardinals are #14 in scoring nationally and #48 in points allowed. Ball State is averaging 475.7 yards per game including 323 passing and 152.7 rushing yards. The Cardinals are #24 in total offense and #16 in passing, but the rushing attack is #81 nationally. On defense, Ball State is allowing 419.9 yards per game including 222.4 passing and 197.5 rushing yards per game. The Cardinals are #85 in total defense, #46 against the pass and #98 against the rush. Ball State is +10 in turnovers with 26 takeaways. The Cardinals are averaging 31 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 75. Ball State is 60/138 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 73/175. The Cardinals have forced 19 sacks and allowed 13 this season. Ball State is 45/51 scoring in the red zone with 34 touchdowns and opponents are 21/29 with 16 touchdowns. The Cardinals have allowed 2 defensive touchdowns.
Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning has completed 62.9% of his passes for 3,164 yards with 27 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with 4 rushing touchdowns. Running back Jahwan Edwards has 145 carries for 749 yards and 12 touchdowns, along with 5 catches. Horactio Banks has 95 carries for 595 yards and 7 touchdowns, plus a catch. Teddy Williamson has 46 carries for 133 yards, plus 2 catches. Receiver Willie Snead has 74 catches, for 1,175 yards with 12 touchdowns. Jordan Williams has 57 catches for 800 yards and 8 touchdowns. Jamil Smith has 50 catches for 683 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus 31 rushing yards and a touchdown. Tight end Zane Fakes has 26 catches for 265 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 43 rushing yards. Two little used receivers and two safeties are listed as questionable or out Wednesday.
Northern Illinois is coached by Rod Carey in his first season. The Huskies have road wins at Iowa 30-27, Idaho 45-35, Purdue 55-24, Kent State 38-24, Central Michigan 38-17, and two weeks ago at Massachusetts 63-19. NIU has home wins over Eastern Illinois 43-39, Akron 27-20, and Eastern Michigan 59-20. The Huskies are 6-3 ATS and the total is 6-3 this season. Northern Illinois was a 28 point favorite at UMass and the total was 60.
NIU took a 21-6 lead at Massachusetts and expanded the lead to 42-13 at halftime. The Huskies would cruise to a 63-19 blowout win. NIU had 612 total yards including 354 rushing yards. UMass had 324 total yards including 155 rushing yards. The Huskies had 2 turnovers and the Minutemen had 3.
Northern Illinois is outscoring teams 44-25 this season. NIU is #7 nationally in scoring. The Huskies are averaging 545.4 yards per game (#5 nationally), including 312.7 rushing yards (#4 nationally) and 232.8 passing yards. On defense, NIU is allowing 418.7 yards per game including 271.6 passing yards and 147.1. The Huskies are #84 in total offense, and#108 in pass defense out of 125 teams. Northern Illinois is +9 in turnovers with 21 takeaways. The Huskies are averaging 61 penalty yards per game. and opponents are averaging 53. NIU is 58/133 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 63/176. The Huskies have forced 26 sacks and allowed 5. NIU is 46/53 scoring in the red zone with 36 touchdowns, and their opponents are 22/24 with 17 touchdowns. The Huskies have a pick six and a kickoff return for a touchdown, and have allowed a kick return and a fumble return for touchdowns.
NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch has completed 63.6% of his passes for 1,871 yards with 19 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Lynch is also the leading rusher with 173 carries, 1,150 yards and 12 touchdown. Running back Cameron Stingily has 141 carries, 784 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 2 catches for 24 yards. Keith Harris, Jr is out for the season with an ankle injury. He had 143 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns, along with a receiving touchdown.
Receiver Tommylee Lewis has 62 catches, 552 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 20 carries for 287 yards and a touchdown. He also has a kick return for a touchdown and even threw a touchdown pass. Da’Ron Brown has 33 catches, 480 yards and 7 touchdowns. Juwan Brescacin has 15 catches for 267 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Luke Eakes has only 7 catches, but two of them have gone for touchdowns. Nine other receivers and running backs have caught touchdown passes. Three defensive players are listed as questionable or out Wednesday.
Ball State is 22-7 after passing for more than 280 yards, 6-2 after rushing for 200 yards or more, 40-14 in road games, 8-3 in MAC games, and against teams with winning home records, 21-8 overall, 12-5 after gaining more than 450 total yards, 19-8 on fieldturf, 14-6 after a straight up win, 7-3 after allowing more than 280 passing yards, and 9-4 against teams with winning records. The road team has covered the last 4 games between Ball State and Northern Illinois.
Northern Illinois is 3-0-1 ATS after a straight up win of more than 20 points, 5-1 after a straight up win, and overall, 4-1 on fieldturf, 15-4-2 after gaining more than 450 total yards, 3-1-1 in November, after allowing 20 points or less, 3-1-2 after allowing 170 passing yards or less, 22-8-2 in MAC games, 8-3-1 after a cover, 7-3-1 at home, and 0-3-1 against teams with losing records.
Northern Illinois has won 22 straight MAC games and 24 straight home games. Ball State has won 11 straight conference games. One of those streaks will end Wednesday. Northern Illinois leads the conference in rushing and Ball State leads the conference in passing. Neither defense is spectacular so this should be a high scoring shootout. I like Northern Illinois to win at home but Ball State keeps it close.