Northern Illinois at Ball State
Time: 3 PM, EST, Sat
Spread: NOIL -2.5
M/L: NOIL -135, BAL +115
Ball State had been the spoiler team in two consecutive weeks, notching impressive victorys over both Indiana and Ball State. They came back to reality last week against a Kent State team that posed too many problems for the Cardinals defense, which ranks among the worst in the nation, giving up 37.8 points per game.
It’s a pity, because the Cardinals offense has been outstanding, and the reason they were able to pull the upsets they have so far. They rank high in both passing yards (43rd with 263.6 per game) and rushing yards (27th with 213.6 per game), but scoring 35 a game isn’t going to win many games when the defense has lacked so badly.
In the loss to Kent State, the Cardinals did their job offensively and actually had more total yards than Golden Flashes, amassing 557 yards and 29 first downs. If it weren’t for a Freddy Cortez field goal by Kent State, the Cardinals would have escaped with the win. Keith Wenning did his usual, throwing to Willie Snead, who caught 14 passes for 216 yards and two TDs, while Wenning totaled 445 yards on 32 of 45 passing. Again, all this offense, and no defense to back it up.
But that makes for exciting football, and the total is set at 66.5 as college football oddsmakers promise a fun game with a lot of scoring.
The Huskies may look to exploit that on the ground, though. They rank 17th in the nation in rushing yard with 232 per game, which has helped the offense score 35.6 per game so far through their five contests, four of which were victories. Their only loss of the year came opening night to a tough Iowa squad, and they only dropped the game by a point. While they haven’t faced the toughest opponents, they did beat an Army squad that has been tough on the ground and they managed to beat the Kansas Jayhawks in week 4.
The Huskies ground attack is paced by dual threat QB Jordan Lynch and featured back Leighton Settle. Lynch has ran for 582 yards and six TDs, while Settle has accounted for 378 yards on 76 carries as the featured back. No other Huskies backs do much of anything, with no one else having rushed for more than 80 yards. Lynch has thrown for an additional 1,060 yards. Ball State is going to have to find a way to play defense fast if they want to sneak away with another upset victory.
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