Northern Illinois Huskies vs Miami OH RedHawks
Friday, 12/3/10, 7:00 PM EDT, TV: ESPN2
Opening Point Spread: Northern Illinois -14.5
Current Betting Line: Northern Illinois -17
Opening Total: 51.5
Current Total: 55
Northern Illinois makes its second appearance all-time in the Mid-American Conference title game and attempts to win its second MAC Championship ever when the Huskies, winners of nine straight games takes on Miami (Ohio). “It’s good for our school and good for our program and this Friday we’ll see if we’re worthy of it,” said third-year coach Jerry Kill about being ranked in the top 25. “We’ve done a nice job, so far, but those are the key words – so far.” The Huskies are in this spot due to a dominating rushing game that ranks seventh in the nation at 279.2 rushing yards per game. Northern Illinois finished with a perfect 8-0 conference record for the first time in school history. The team is 7-0 ATS versus conference opponents this year and the NCAA football lines page has them listed as a heavy favorite.
The series between these two teams is knotted at seven wins apiece. The teams will be meeting for the 15th time since 1970 and for the eighth time since NIU rejoined the MAC in 1997 in Detroit. Northern Illinois has defeated the RedHawks in five straight games dating back to 1998. Under Kill, the program is 9-10 in road games since 2008, with seven of the 10 losses by nine points or less. It must be noted that this game is being played on a neutral field and the Huskies are 0-2 ATS in this situation the last three years.
Miami (Ohio) finished the regular season with an 8-4 overall record and will learn its bowl destination on December 5. The RedHawks have seven more victories than it recorded in all of 2009. No other team in Division I college football has improved as much as the RedHawks. “We have gone through so much in five years,” said guard Nate Williams. “This year it’s unbelievable how hard we’ve worked and how well we have stayed a team.” The team earned a dominating 22-3 victory over Temple on November 23rd and clinched the East Division with Kent State upsetting Ohio last Friday. Miami is 2-8 ATS in games played on turf the past three years.
The RedHawks have lost five games in a row to the Huskies, but the average margin of defeat has been just six points. Miami had negative rushing yardage (-11) in last season’s 27-22 loss to Northern Illinois. Head coach Michael Haywood will be proud of any result in this championship atmosphere as he rebuilds the program. “We had a five-year plan and we’re in Year 4 already,” he stated. “Things are going in the right direction.” Miami was victorious in all four of its conference road games, out-gaining opponents by a 385.5 to 301 margin in yardage.
Bettors will be interested in knowing that the Huskies are 2-8 ATS versus a team with a winning record, while the RedHawks are 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings.