Northern Illinois Vs. Western Michigan Odds, Picks, Predictions (11/9/22)

Midweek MACtion is in full swing, and this matchup between Northern Illinois and Western Michigan carries plenty of intrigue. Both teams are 1-3 in their last four games, and the Huskies are coming off an upset loss to Central Michigan. You can find full coverage of the odds for every MAC game on the Lineups site as well as our picks and predictions on the YouTube channel. Let’s get to work.

Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Western Michigan Broncos Odds

There’s been plenty of movement on the odds for this game, and at the time of this writing, Western Michigan is between a pick ‘em and a 1.5-point favorite at home. Both of these teams have switched their starting quarterbacks recently, and that introduces even more variance to what is a high-variance conference.

There has also been movement towards the under in this game, and unders in MAC games seem to be hitting at a higher rate this season. At 50.5 total points, the under could be a solid play given the offensive uncertainty for both teams.

Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Western Michigan Broncos Prediction & Pick

One of the biggest gap between these teams heading into the season was their returning production. According to Action Network’s database, the Huskies ranked fourth in the FBS in returning production and the Broncos ranked 126th. However, that gap has been mitigated by injuries to the Huskies’ top two quarterbacks and top receiver.

For Western Michigan, Treyson Bourguet has taken over for Jack Sapolek as the new starter after he threw five picks against Ohio. Bourguet played decently well against Miami of Ohio last time out, but he’s also playing behind an offensive line that ranks outside the top 100 in every key metric on Football Outsiders.

I’d lean towards playing the Broncos at home, particularly with how poor the Huskies’ defense has been, which I’ll get into in a minute. However, this game doesn’t present the best value on the board for this week of college football, let alone for the midweek MACtion slate. Still, given the offensive question marks, I’ll take the under here.

Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Western Michigan Broncos Key Matchups

Northern Illinois rushing offense vs. Western Michigan front seven

The Huskies suffered injuries to their top two quarterbacks, Rocky Lombardi and Ethan Hampton, and it sounds like the season is likely over for both players. It’s unclear whether it will be Nevan Cremascoli or Justin Lynch under center, but either way, we should expect Northern Illinois to be a very run-heavy offense.

They’ve been that all season, as they rank 19th in rush play rate, and it’s resulted in them ranking 22nd in time of possession. While they rank just 89th in average line yards, they have two dynamic running backs in Harrison Waylee and Antario Brown who have had strong seasons. The Huskies rank 38th in rush play explosiveness, as well.

However, Western Michigan’s defensive strength is against the run. They have a stout linebacker tandem in Zaire Barnes and Corvin Moment, and they rank 40th in run stuff rate. Despite losing some key players on defense, they rank 77th in rush play EPA allowed. Their secondary is their weakness, but Northern Illinois isn’t in a position to test them through the air.

Treyson Bourguet vs. Northern Illinois secondary

If there was a matchup for Treyson Bourguet to start to break out, it would be this week. While he has just 314 total passing yards through two starts, there are reasons for optimism as he completed 59.3% of his passes and averaged 7.1 yards per attempt in his last game against Miami of Ohio.

This matchup should be very favorable for him as Northern Illinois ranks 130th in passing EPA allowed, 119th in pass play success rate allowed, and 125th in pass play explosiveness allowed. If he can threaten through the air, his mobility on the ground could make the Broncos’ offense more dangerous than we’re used to seeing this year.

Western Michigan has two elusive running backs in Sean Tyler and La’Darius Jefferson, but they’ve been ineffective this year as opposing defenses have constantly stacked the box against them. If Bourguet can prevent the Huskies’ defense from doing that, the Broncos could establish a real ground game this week.

I've been a huge sports fan for as long as I can remember and I've always loved writing. In 2020, I joined the Lineups team, and I've been producing written and video content on football and basketball ever since. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. My goal is to tell enthralling stories and provide meaningful insight on the sports I write about while helping you cash some bets along the way.

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