College Football MAC Championship Game: Northern Illinois Huskies vs Bowling Green Falcons

2015 MAC Football Championship
Northern Illinois Huskies vs Bowling Green Falcons
Ford Field – Detroit, Michigan
Friday, December 4, 2015, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Bowling Green -9 1/2
Current Line: Bowling Green -12
Opening Total: 71
Current Total: 70 1/2
Opening Money Line: BGSU -370 / NIU +310
Current Money Line: BGSU -460 / NIU +365

Bowling Green is a 12 point favorite over Northern Illinois in the 2015 MAC Championship Game Friday in Detroit.
Bowling Green is a 12 point favorite over Northern Illinois in the 2015 MAC Championship Game Friday in Detroit.

The Northern Illinois Huskies and Bowling Green Falcons meet in the MAC Championship Game for the third straight season Friday in Detroit. This is the rubber match as each team won in a blowout. The Falcons won 47-27 in 2013 and last year the Huskies returned the favor 51-17. Northern Illinois is actually making their sixth straight trip to the MAC Championship game and seventh overall. The Huskies are 3-3 in MAC Championship games. The Falcons are 1-2 in three previous MAC Championship game appearances. Bowling Green leads the series against Northern Illinois 11-8 overall.

This year, Bowling Green is 9-3 overall. The Falcons won the East Division with a 7-1 record over 5-3 Ohio and Akron. Northern Illinois is 8-4 overall and was 6-2 in the West. The Huskies were part of a four way tie for first with Toledo, Central Michigan and Western Michigan.

Rod Carey is the coach for Northern Illinois. The Huskies have road losses at Ohio State 20-13, Boston College 17-14 and Central Michigan 29-19, plus a home loss to Ohio 26-21 last week. The Ohio loss snapped a six game winning streak for NIU after a three game losing streak. The Huskies have home wins over UNLV 38-30, Murray State 57-26,  Ball State 59-41, Eastern Michigan 49-21, and Western Michigan 27-19. NIU has road wins at Miami-(OH) 45-12, Toledo 32-27 and Buffalo 41-30. The Huskies are 7-3-2 ATS and the total is 6-6 this season.

Northern Illinois was an 11 point favorite against Ohio and the total was 58 last Tuesday. The Bobcats jumped out to 20-7 halftime lead and held on for the 26-21 win. The loss prevented Northern Illinois from clinching the West title outright.

Bowling Green is coached by Dino Babers. The Falcons have a neutral site loss to Tennessee 59-30 in Nashville plus home losses to Memphis 44-41 and Toledo 44-28. The Falcons have road wins over Maryland 48-27, Purdue 35-28, Buffalo 28-22, Kent State 48-0, Western Michigan 41-27 and Ball State 48-10 last week. BGSU has home wins over Massachusetts 62-38, Akron 59-10, and Ohio 62-24. The Falcons are 9-3 ATS and the total is 6-6 this season.

After a 1-2 start, Bowling Green has won 8 of the last 9 games. The Falcons easily covered the 23 point spread against Ball State and the game went under the 74 point total.

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Northern Illinois is outscoring teams 35-25 this season. The Huskies are #33 in scoring nationally. NIU averages 441 yards per game on offense including 227 passing and 213 rushing. The Huskies are #37 or better in total and rushing offense nationally. On defense, NIU allows 392 total yards per game including 233 passing and 159 rushing yards. The Huskies are +6 in turnovers with 25 takeaways. Northern Illinois averages 52 penalty yards per game and opponents average 45. The Huskies are 96/226 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 95/233. NIU has forced 23 sacks and allowed 23 as well. The Huskies are 42/45 scoring in the red zone with 34 touchdowns and opponents are 33/39 with 15 touchdowns.

Quarterback Drew Hare is out for the season with a leg injury. He threw for 1,962 yards with 14 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, and rushed for 252 yards on 104 carries with a touchdown. Ryan Graham took over for Hare. Graham has thrown for 653 yards with 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, and ru1shed for 159 yards on 53 carries. He suffered a leg injury against Ohio and is questionable against Bowling Green. Tommy Fiedler will start if Graham can’t go. He threw for 113 yards and a touchdown against Ohio in his first action of the season, and had 3 carries for 20 yards.

Running back Joel Bouagnon has 261 carries for 1,212 yards and 18 touchdowns, plus 10 catches for 100 yards. Jordan Huff has 76 catches for 617 yards and 8 touchdowns, plus 2 catches for 12 yards.

Receiver Kenny Golladay has 70 catches for 1,107 yards and 10 touchdowns, and also has a rushing touchdown. Tommylee Lewis has 33 catches for 387 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 20 rushing yards. He is questionable with an ankle injury. Aregeros Turner has 37 carries for 335 yards and a touchdown, along with 17 carries for 136 yards and a touchdown. Juwan Brescacin, Chad Beebe, Desroy Maxwell, and Shane Wimann will also get some targets. Wimann has only 11 catches but 4 touchdowns.

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Bowling Green is outscoring teams 44-28 this season. The Falcons are #4 in scoring nationally. BGSU averages 566 yards per game on offense including 388 passing and 178 rushing yards. The Falcons are #3 nationally in both total offense and passing. On defense, BGSU allows 422 total yards per game including 255 passing and 167 rushing yards. The Falcons are #90 or worse in total and pass defense out of 128 FBS teams. BGSU is +12 in turnovers with 23 takeaways. The Falcons average 80 penalty yards per game and opponents average 66 yards. BGSU is 108/204 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 92/218. The Falcons have forced 26 sacks and allowed 33 this season. Bowling Green is 54/63 scoring in the red zone with 47 touchdowns and opponents are 41/48 with 27 touchdowns.

Quarterback Matt Johnson has completed 68.9% of his passes for 4,465 yards with 41 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, along with 149 rushing yards on 99 carries with 4 touchdowns. Back-up James Knapke has thrown for 173 yards with a touchdown, mostly in garbage time of blowouts.

Running back Travis Greene has 183 carries for 1,036 yards with 12 touchdowns, along with 24 catches for 223 yards and 2 touchdowns. Fred Coppet has 120 carries for 712 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 9 catches for 75 yards. Donovan Wilson has only 36 carries for 78 yards but does have 7 rushing touchdowns.

Receiver Roger Lewis has 76 catches for 1,401 yards and 14 touchdowns. Gehrig Dieter has 82 catches for 882 yards and 9 touchdowns. Ronnie Moore has 62 catches for 818 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus a rushing touchdown. Ryan Burbrink has 53 catches for 608 yards with 4 touchdowns, plus a rushing touchdown. Teo Redding has 12 catches for 198 yards and 3 touchdowns. Derek Lee and Hunter Folkertsma each have two touchdown catches.

Bowling Green is 7-0 ATS after allowing less than 275 total yards, 6-1 after scoring more than 40 points, in MAC games, overall and on fieldturf, 5-1 after a straight up win, 10-2 after allowing less than 170 passing yards, 4-1 after a cover and against teams with winning records, 8-2 after allowing less than 20 points, 38-13 after a straight up win of 20 points or more, and 33-16-2 after rushing for 200 yards or more.

Northern Illinois 4-0 ATS after failing to cover, 5-1-1 in MAC games, against teams with winning records, overall and on fieldturf, 3-1-1 in Friday games, 5-2 after rushing for 100 yards or less, 5-2-2 after allowing less than 170 passing yards, 2-8 in December, 1-4-1 after a straight up loss and in neutral site games.

The Huskies are banged up and could be down to their third string quarterback. Bowling Green has an explosive offense but a suspect defense. This should be a high scoring game but I like the Falcons to win comfortably.

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