On Tuesday (10/31/23), Northern Illinois faces Central Michigan in a fascinating MAC matchup. In this article, find the latest betting odds for the game and a full matchup preview. In addition, find our best bet which is under 44.5 points.
Northern Illinois Huskies Vs. Central Michigan Chippewas Prediction
It’s the return of the MAC this week as midweek MACtion is back in full swing, and we’re kicking things off in Mount Pleasant, Michigan with a matchup between Northern Illinois and Central Michigan. Both of these teams are 4-4, but they are headed in opposite directions entering this matchup.
Northern Illinois has won four straight games, including an upset of Ohio as 5.5-point underdogs, while Central Michigan has lost two of their last three games, including two losses as favorites against Buffalo and Ball State. These two teams are priced second and third in the MAC West behind the heavily favored Toledo.
The Huskies lean on running back Antario Brown, who is averaging 5.9 YPC and has had two incredible performances in conference play lately. Brown had 16 carries for 152 yards against Toledo and then 13 carries for 280 yards against Akron. He faces another bad run defense here as Central Michigan ranks 126th in rushing success rate allowed.
The Chippewas also lean on the run game, and they should be able to run the ball here as they’re 34th in rushing EPA while Northern Illinois ranks 111th in rushing EPA allowed. Running back Myles Bailey missed last week’s game with an injury, so his status must be monitored, but Marion Lukes should have success regardless.
I see Northern Illinois as the more talented team here and I like them to win outright, but the spread has moved past a point where I’d be comfortable playing it after sitting at -3 at open. The total has also moved significantly – after sitting at 48 earlier in the week, it’s been bet down to 44.5.
Transparency is key in this business, and I’ll be entirely honest with you – I wouldn’t bet this game after the numbers have moved so much. Still, I see a little value on the under here between two offenses who have been largely unconvincing and rank outside the top 100 in passing success rate. Look for a 45 if you’re betting the under as that’s a very key number.
Northern Illinois Vs. Central Michigan Prediction: Under 44.5 Points
Northern Illinois Vs. Central Michigan Best Odds
Like I broke down above, we’ve seen significant line movement in this game as we lead up to kickoff. The spread sat at Northern Illinois -3 and has been bet to -5.5 while the total has been bet down from 48 to 44.5. Keep an eye out for team totals when those lines come out as there could be some value in that derivative market.
Northern Illinois Vs. Central Michigan Key Matchups
These MAC teams will likely lean heavily on their running backs in this game, which sets up for an interesting matchup for both defenses. Let’s break down those key matchups that will decide the outcome of the game.
Antario Brown Vs. Central Michigan Run Defense
Northern Illinois running back Antario Brown has 676 rushing yards and six touchdowns through eight games, but over half of his production has come in two games against Toledo and Akron. He’s been somewhat quiet in the other games, and the Huskies need his production with Rocky Lombardi having an up and down season.
Central Michigan hasn’t been able to stop the run whatsoever this season as they rank bottom 15 in stuff rate, defensive line yards, and EPA per rush allowed. It doesn’t help that leading tackler Kyle Moretti was on crutches in the last game – I don’t expect him to play here. If your book offers a rushing yardage prop for Brown, that’s a great look.
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) October 7, 2023
Marion Lukes Vs. Northern Illinois Run Defense
Central Michigan was expecting to start Bert Emanuel Jr. at quarterback, but his struggles have led to Jase Bauer becoming the full time starter. Neither passer has been productive, however. With Myles Bailey potentially out again with an injury, Marion Lukes will need to be the go to runner for Central Michigan in this game, but his season high rushing yards was 58 last week.
Northern Illinois does provide some opportunities for Lukes to produce as they rank bottom three in defensive stuff rate with an undersized defensive front. The Huskies rank 111th in rushing EPA/play allowed while the Chippewas rank 34th in rushing EPA/play on offense. The Chips will need a big game from Lukes to keep this one in striking distance.
Marion Lukes with the big touchdown run as Central Michigan tied it up with Akron in the clash of 1-5 #MACtion teams…
— College Football Network (@CFN365) October 15, 2022