College Football Poinsettia Bowl Betting Picks: Boise State Broncos vs Northern Illinois Huskies

2015 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Boise State Broncos vs Northern Illinois Huskies
Qualcomm Stadium – San Diego, California
Wednesday, December 23, 2015, 3:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Boise State -8
Current Line: Boise State -9 1/2
Opening Total: 56
Current Total: 57
Opening Money Line: BSU -325 / NIU +260
Current Money Line: BSU -350 / NIU +290

Boise State is a 9.5 point favorite against Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl.
Boise State is a 9.5 point favorite against Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl.

The Boise State Broncos and Northern Illinois Huskies are two of the most successful non-power five conference teams in the country in recent years. Each has made at least one appearance in a BCS/ New Year’s Six Bowl game in recent years. The two schools meet for the first time ever as they face off in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.

Boise State went 8-4 in the Mountain West and were part of a four way tie for second place in the Mountain Division at 5-3 behind 6-2 Air Force. Boise State is making their fifteenth bowl appearance in the last 16 seasons, including 14 straight. The Broncos have gone 10-5 overall in bowls, including 5-1 in the last six games. Boise State beat Arizona 38-30 in the Fiesta Bowl last year. The Broncos also played in this game in 2008 losing to TCU.

Northern Illinois went 8-5 in the MAC. The Huskies finished 6-2 and won a tiebreaker among 3 other teams for the West Division title. NIU lost to Bowling Green 34-14 in the MAC Championship game. Northern Illinois is 4-6 all time in bowls. The Huskies are making their 10th bowl appearance since 2004, including eight straight. The Huskies have lost 3 straight bowls including 52-23 to Marshall last year in the Boca Raton Bowl. NIU has lost both previous appearances in this bowl in 2006 and 2013.

Boise State is coached by Bryan Harsin. The Broncos have road losses at BYU 35-24 and Utah State 52-26, plus home losses against New Mexico 31-24 and Air Force 37-30. Boise State has home wins over Washington 16-13, Idaho State 52-0, Hawaii 55-0, and Wyoming 34-14, plus road wins over Virginia 56-14, Colorado State 41-10, UNLV 55-27, and San Jose State 40-23 in the last game of the regular season.

Boise State was an 8 point favorite against San Jose State and the total was 57. San Jose State took a 10-9 lead into halftime. Boise State would take a 16-10 into the fourth. The Broncos pulled away with 24 points, and took the 17 point win. Both teams combined for almost 1,000 total yards, but San Jose State had 2 turnovers. Boise State is 6-6 ATS and the total is 6-6 this season.

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. 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.

In the MAC Championship game in Detroit, NIU was a 14 point underdog against Bowling Green and the total was 69. Bowling Green took a 28-0 lead early in the third. The Huskies scored two touchdowns to pull within 28-14 including a 63 yard pick six, but the Falcons scored a fourth quarter touchdown to put the game out of reach. Bowling Green won 34-14. The Falcons had 501 total yards to 259 for the Huskies. The teams combined for seven turnovers including five by NIU. The Huskies are 7-4-2 ATS and the total is 6-7 this season.

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Boise State is outscoring teams 38-21 this season. The Broncos are in the top 25 nationally in both categories. Boise State averages 489 yards per game on offense including 304 passing and 184 rushing yards. The Broncos are in the top 20 nationally in total and passing offense. Boise State allows 342 total yards per game on defense including 224 passing and 118 rushing yards. The Broncos are #24 in total defense and #12 against the rush. Boise State has forced 28 turnovers and has 20 turnovers of their own. The Broncos average 52 penalty yards per game and opponents average 63 per game. Boise State is 92/217 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 69/201. The Broncos have forced 28 sacks and have allowed 29 this season. Boise State is 49/59 scoring in the red zone with 34 touchdowns and opponents are 25/33 with 17 touchdowns.

Boise State has used three quarterbacks this season. Brett Rypien (nephew of former NFL quarterback Mark) took over for an injured Ryan Finley early in the season. Finley is out for the season with an ankle injury. Thomas Stuart has also taken a few snaps. Rypien has completed 62.6% of his passes for 2,976 yards with 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Finley has thrown for 485 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions, and also has 42 rushing yards. Stuart has thrown for 114 yards with a touchdown, and also has 39 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. Receivers Shane Williams-Rhodes and Thomas Sperbeck have each thrown a touchdown pass this season.

Running back Jeremy McNichols has 221 carries for 1,244 yards and 18 touchdowns, plus 46 catches for 345 yards and 5 touchdowns. Kelsey Young has 91 carries for 457 yards and 7 touchdowns, along with 8 catches. Devan Demas has 29 carries for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Sperbeck has 82 catches for 1,334 yards with 8 touchdowns, plus 41 rushing yards. Chaz Anderson has 38 catches for 532 yards and 2 touchdowns. Williams-Rhodes has 55 catches for 430 yards, plus 68 rushing yards and a touchdown. Jake Roh has 29 catches for 319 yards and a touchdown. Holden Huff has 17 catches for 236 yards and 3 touchdowns. Four defensive players are listed on the injury report.

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Northern Illinois is outscoring teams 33-26 this season. The Huskies are #43 in scoring nationally. NIU averages 427 yards per game on offense including 222 passing and 205 rushing. The Huskies are #44 or better in total and rushing offense nationally. On defense, NIU allows 400 total yards per game including 233 passing and 167 rushing yards. The Huskies are +3 in turnovers with 27 takeaways. Northern Illinois averages 52 penalty yards per game and opponents average 50. The Huskies are 99/244 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 102/252. NIU has forced 25 sacks and allowed 27 this season. The Huskies are 42/47 scoring in the red zone with 34 touchdowns and opponents are 36/44 with 18 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 missed the Bowling Green game. He is probable against Boise State. Tommy Fiedler will start if Graham can’t go and started the MAC Championship game. He has 265 passing yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, along with 42 rushing yards.

Running back Joel Bouagnon has 275 carries for 1,269 yards and 18 touchdowns, plus 13 catches for 131 yards. Jordan Huff has 81 carries for 640 yards and 8 touchdowns, plus 2 catches for 12 yards.

Receiver Kenny Golladay has 71 catches for 1,122 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 39 carries for 343 yards and a touchdown, along with 21 carries for 143 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. Maxwell has 3 touchdown catches.

Boise State is 5-0 ATS against MAC teams, 4-1 in Wednesday games, 8-2 after gaining more than 450 total yards, 6-2 in non-conference games, 5-2 in bowl games, 7-3 in neutral site games, 16-7 on grass, 35-17-1 after allowing more than 280 passing yards, 1-4 in December and and 0-4 against teams with winning records.

Northern Illinois is 5-0 ATS in Wednesday games, 4-1 after failing to cover, 4-1-1 after allowing more than 450 total yards, 5-2-1 against teams with winning records, and overall, 2-5-1 after gaining less than 275 total yards, 2-6 in bowl games, 3-9 on grass, 1-4-1 after scoring 20 points or less, 1-5-1 after a straight up loss, and in neutral site games, and 1-5 in December.

Both these teams had rather disappointing seasons by their standards, but they are still dangerous teams. I think Boise wins a low scoring game but 9.5 points seem like a lot.

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