2014 Marathon MAC Championship Game
Bowling Green Falcons vs Northern Illinois Huskies
Ford Field – Detroit, Michigan
Friday, December 5, 2014, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Northern Illinois -6 (-109)
Current Line: Northern Illinois -6 1/2
Opening Total: 54 1/2
Current Total: 55
Opening Money Line: NIU -245 / BGSU +205
Current Money Line: NIU -255 / BGSU +215
The 10-2 Northern Illinois Huskies and 7-5 Bowling Green Falcons meet in the 2014 MAC Championship game for the second straight season. Northern Illinois tied with Toledo for the MAC West Division title with a 7-1 record, but the Huskies won the head to head match-up to clinch a fifth straight trip to the MAC Championship. With a victory over Bowling Green Northern Illinois has an outside shot of going to one of the major bowls if Boise State and Marshall were to lose their respective conference championship games Saturday. Bowling Green won the East Division title with a 5-3 record.
Bowling Green leads the series against Northern Illinois 11-7. The Falcons won the last meeting in the 2013 MAC Championship game 47-27 after NIU finished the regular season undefeated. It was the 11th conference championship for Bowling Green. The Falcons are 1-1 in their previous MAC Championship game appearances. NIU is looking for their fourth MAC Title and third in the last four seasons. The Huskies are 2-3 in five previous MAC title games.
Bowling Green is coached by Dino Babers. The Falcons have losses at Western Kentucky 59-31, at Wisconsin 68-17, at Toledo 27-20, at home to Western Michigan 26-14 and last week at home to Ball State 41-24. The Falcons have lost two straight games. Bowling Green has home wins over VMI 48-7, Indiana 45-42, Buffalo 36-35 and Kent State 30-20 plus road wins at Massachusetts 47-42, Ohio 31-13 and Akron 27-10. The Falcons are 4-7-1 ATS and the total is 5-7 this season. Bowling Green was a 10 point favorite against Ball State and the total was 57.5.
Northern Illinois is coached by Rod Carey. The Huskies have losses at Arkansas 52-17 and at home to Central Michigan 34-17. NIU has won 6 straight games. The Huskies have home wins over Presbyterian 55-3, Kent State 17-14, Miami-(OH) 51-41, and Toledo 27-24. Northern Illinois has road wins at Northwestern 23-15, UNLV 48-34, Eastern Michigan 28-17, Ball State 35-21, Ohio 21-14 and Western Michigan 31-21 last week. The Huskies are 6-6 ATS and the total is 3-9 this season. NIU was an 8 point underdog against Western Michigan and the total was 58.5.
Bowling Green is being outscored 33-31 this season. The Falcons are #101 out of 128 FBS teams in points allowed and #54 in scoring. Bowling Green is averaging 440 yards per game on offense including 259 passing and 181 rushing yards. The Falcons are in the top 50 nationally in all three categories. On defense, Bowling Green is allowing 495 total yards per game including 299 passing and 197 rushing yards. The Falcons are #98 0r worse in all three categories including #127 in pass defense. Bowling Green is +9 in turnovers with 27 takeaways. The Falcons average 66 penalty yards per game and opponents average 66 as well. BGSU is 81/215 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 89/209. Bowling Green has 22 sacks and opponents have 22 this season. The Falcons are 40/48 scoring in the red zone with 24 touchdowns and opponents are 40/54 with 32 touchdowns. Bowling Green has 2 punt returns, a kick return and a fumble return for touchdowns.
Bowling Green quarterback James Knapke took over as the starter in the second game for an injured Matt Johnson who is out for the season with a hip injury. Knapke has completed 57.4% of his passes for 2,654 yards with 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions along with 54 carries for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Running back Travis Greene has 142 carries for 803 yards and 9 touchdowns , along with 24 catches for 180 yards and a touchdown. Fred Coppet has 114 carries for 653 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 7 catches. Andre Givens has 99 carries for 474 yards and 8 touchdowns. Receiver Roger Lewis has 66 catches for 934 yards and 5 touchdowns. Ronnie Moore has 49 catches for 598 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus 2 rushing touchdowns. Ryan Burbrink has 55 catches for 663 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus a punt return for a touchdown. Heath Jackson has 31 catches for 244 yards.
Northern Illinois is outscoring teams 31-24 this season. The Huskies are averaging 433 yards per game on offense including 187 passing and 246 rushing. NIU is #45 in total offense, #18 in rushing and #103 in passing out of 128 FBS teams. On defense the Huskies are allowing 391 yards per game including 230 passing and 161 rushing yards. NIU is +10 in turnovers with 20 takeaways. The Huskies average 59 penalty yards per game and opponents average 39 per game. NIU is 98/202 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 86/199. The Huskies have forced 26 sacks and opponents have 9 sacks. Northern Illinois is 43/54 scoring in the red zone with 35 touchdowns and opponents are 36/41 with 26 touchdowns. NIU has a pick six and has allowed a kick return and a fumble return for touchdowns.
NIU quarterback Drew Hare has completed 60% of his passes for 1,879 yards with 15 touchdowns and an interception, and also has 133 carries for 790 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns. Anthony Maddie and Matt McIntosh have combined for 56 snaps this season.
Running back Cameron Stingily has 160 carries for 779 yards with 11 touchdowns. Joel Bouagnon has 91 carries for 516 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus 12 catches for 68 yards and a touchdown. Running back Keith Harris, Jr. is questionable for undisclosed reasons. Receiver Da’Ron Brown has 55 catches for 932 yards and 6 touchdowns, plus 8 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown. Juwan Brescacin has 22 catches for 322 yards and 4 touchdowns. Aregeros Turner and Chad Beebe will also get a lot of catches. Receiver Tommylee Lewis is is out for the season with a lower body injury.
Bowling Green is 5-0 ATS after a double digit home loss, 8-2-1 after failing to cover, 4-1-1 against teams with winning records, 28-10-1 after passing for less than 170 yards, 19-7-1 after allowing more than 450 total yards, 24-9-1 after rushing for more than 200 yards, 10-4 in Friday games, 1-3-1 in MAC games, 2-6-1 overall and on fieldturf, 1-5 after gaining more than 450 total yards, and 0-4-1 after passing for more than 280 yards.
Northern Illinois is 7-3 ATS after a cover, 3-7 in MAC games, 1-4 against teams with winning records, 1-7 in December, and 0-3-1 in neutral site games.
I wouldn’t put too much stock in Bowling Green’s two game losing streak to end the season. The Falcons had already clinched a berth in the MAC Championship game and were already bowl eligible. Toledo is a very good team too. Still, I think the Huskies will be motivated to get revenge against the Falcons for ending their undefeated season last year. NIU wins a high scoring shootout.