Northern Illinois -3 3.3% Play
Northern Illinois will be playing this game with fire as they can get to the MAC Championship game with a win, and a Toledo loss. Toledo will be playing 30 minutes earlier so the game will be going on at the same time. I expect head coach Carey will try to avoid letting his players know what's going on in the game between Toledo and Western Michigan. For Central Michigan this game really means nothing other than jumping Northern Illinois in the standings. Northern Illinois also lost this game last year and would like to have revenge.
I really like how this game matches up here. For one the road team actually has an advantage being on the road the day after a holiday they should be more focused. The other thing is Central Michigan's strength is passing the ball and stopping the pass. They are ranked 98th vs. the run. Northern Illinois is actually a top pass defense 38th in opposing QB rating and 6th in sack %. Central Michigan relies heavily on the pass, and the 3 times they have faced a good pass defense ranking in the top 10 they scored 10, 8, and 14 points losing all three games by 17, 20, and 20 points. Here they just have to lose by 4 or more. Expect Northern Illinois pass rush led by Sutton Smith (13 sacks) to really be the reason Northern Illinois can come out of here with a double digit victory.
In addition to that edge Northern Illinois has a balanced offense. They can run and throw the ball. So even though Central Michigan is poor against the run, they can't sell out against it because Northern Illinois is fully capable of passing the ball. The other thing to note here is 15mph winds. Less than ideal for a pass happy Central Michigan. I believe Northern Illinois will be better int he red zone. I don't expect a super high scoring game, but Northern Illinois should walk away with a big win.
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