Cure Bowl – Northern Illinois Vs. Coastal Carolina
There are few bowls more intriguing than the Cure Bowl, which will feature MAC champion Northern Illinois against Sun Belt preseason favorite Coastal Carolina.
Despite its 10-2 regular-season record, the Chants didn’t make the Sun Belt championship game because of their head-to-head loss against App State. The thrilling loss was costly, but the Cure Bowl will cap off a fine season, nonetheless.
Unless Coastal Carolina blows this game as double-digit favorites. It’s more possible than you think, considering NIU won outright as double-digit favorites twice this season (+19 vs. Georgia Tech, +13 over Toledo).
Northern Illinois vs. Coastal Carolina Betting Odds
Northern Illinois Huskies Odds
Northern Illinois’ pre-season win total was four, and the Huskies were major longshots to win the MAC. However, Rocky Lombardi and Co. outperformed everyone’s expectations, winning nine games by dominating on the ground.
Five players recorded at least 350 rush yards this season, including Lombardi, with the Huskies averaging 5.1 yards per carry as a team. NIU finished the season 12th in Rush Success Rate behind an offensive line that was 19th in Line Yards.
The Huskies went on to finish second in the MAC in total points (410), trailing only Kent State. This was despite Lombardi’s passing ability, wherein he completed just 58% of his passes for less than eight yards per attempt and a lousy 13:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
However, there had to be some level of luck attached to NIU’s historic season. The Huskie defense was atrocious, finishing outside the top 100 in:
– Rush Success Rate
– Pass Success Rate
– Defensive Line Yards
– Pass Rush
– Finishing Drives
– PFF’s coverage grades
The Huskies allowed 32.7 points per game this season, finishing 107th overall and third-last in the MAC.
That might bite them given Coastal Carolina’s offensive ability.
Northern Illinois Vs. Coastal Carolina Betting Picks Video
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers Odds
Nobody had a better offensive Success Rate than Coastal Carolina this season.
Grayson McCall, a future NFL draft pick, led an offense that scored over 40 points per game this season. He averaged a whopping 13.7 adjusted yards per attempt and posted a ridiculous 23:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Additionally, nobody produced more Big Plays than the Chants. McCall completed 64.3% of his passes on 20+ yards downfield this season, making 15 Big Time Throws and posting a 7:0 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the process.
The entire country just saw this throw and catch from Grayson McCall to Jaivon Heiligh.
My goodness. pic.twitter.com/QbazdZksyS
— Scott Watkins (@scottwatkinsTU) October 20, 2021
But it wasn’t just the pass game that worked. Behind an offensive line that ranked eighth in Line Yards, the Chants ranked 10th in Rush Success Rate and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. Shermari Jones was the lead back, falling just eight yards of a 1000-yard season and scoring 13 times.
While the defense ranked 85th in PFF’s coverage grades, the Chants managed to keep everything in front of them. Coastal Carolina had the 11th best Pass Rush and finished sixth in preventing Big Plays.
Northern Illinois vs. Coastal Carolina Prediction and Pick
My pick: Coastal Carolina -10.5 (-105 at FanDuel)
Northern Illinois can’t keep doing this. The Huskies have pulled out one improbable underdog victory after another despite a horrendous defense and bad quarterback.
Coastal Carolina has a three-down, explosive offense that can take advantage of any defense, much-less one as vulnerable as this one. And while Northern Illinois will move the ball, Coastal Carolina can contain the Huskies enough to cover the 10-point spread.
While Coastal Carolina hasn’t covered in three straight games, all as double-digit favorites, it’s time to buy back low on the Chants.