Two MAC Conference foes will settle their differences in some mid-week football when the Western Michigan Broncos play the Northern Illinois Huskies. The contest is set to go off on Wednesday, November 15th at 7:00 p.m. EST and can be seen on ESPN2. As of now, the Huskies are a -10 point favorite and the matches total sits at
The Western Michigan Broncos head into this game off a 48-20 thumping of Kent State at home. As a result, the Broncos moved to 4-2 in the division play and 6-4 overall. In that game, Western Michigan racked up almost 300 yards on the ground.
Northern Illinois Huskies improved their conference record to 5-1 in the conference after crushing Ball State 63-17 at home. The Huskies only loss came by 10 points at Toledo, who is also 5-1 in MAC play. That means that if both teams finished tied, it will be Toledo that will vie for the conference crown.
Last year, the Broncos beat Northern Illinois 45-30 in Michigan. The victory was only Western Michigan’s second in the series dating back to 2007.
Western Michigan Broncos (6-4)
The Western Michigan Broncos had an amazing 13-1 season last year. In fact, their only loss was in their bowl game to Wisconsin Badgers. In 2017, they went through numerous changes at the skilled positions in the offseason. Since they have only gone 6-4 this year but are 4-2 in conference play. Now, they need to find a way to capture this victory to keep them alive for a division title.
Quarterback Jon Wassink was one of the huge changes that were made for the Broncos in the off-season. So far, he hasn’t exactly lit up the scoreboard but has remained reliable under center. In all, he has tossed the ball for 1,391 yards on 124 completions. He also has 14 touchdown passes and only four interceptions on the season. As his campaign progresses, it is important for him to keep bringing balance to their run-first attack.
The offense has been all about the run this year. Tailback Jarvion Franklin has been the anchor 1,061 yards and 10 scores. Last week, he scampered for another 191 yards and a touchdown. After that, Franklin is now 20th in the nation in rushing. Overall, the Broncos’ ground game is ranked 14th in the country.
Three wide receivers pitch in to help Western Michigan move the ball via the air. Together, the trio has caught almost 100 balls for almost 1,150 yards and 12 touchdowns. Keishawn Watson leads the club with 36 catches for 321 yards and a team-high six trips to the end zone. Tight end Donnie Ernsberger has had a solid season. The 6’3, 255-pound receiver has reeled in 27 balls for 315 yards and three scores.
Defensively, the Broncos are holding their opponents to an average of 27.6 points per contest. They also are only allowing 377.5 total yards per game. The unit as a whole has been opportunistic, forcing 22 turnovers with an overall turnover margin of +7.
Northern Illinois Huskies (7-3)
Against Ball State, the Huskies played 60 minutes of solid football in all three phases of the game. They also put up a season-high in points and put the Cardinals away after taking a 35-7 lead. Northern Illinois used a nice mix of run and pass to amass well over 400 yards of total offense. They also blocked two punts and both were returned for scores.
Quarterback Marcus Childers was about as efficient as a head coach could hope for. He only connected on 10 of his 22 pass attempts in the game, but he did throw for 141 yards with four touchdowns and no picks. In all, he has completed 57 percent of his throws for 1,253 yards with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. The dual-threat signal-caller also runs the ball well. Childers has scrambled for just over 400 yards and four scores with his legs.
It was a breath of fresh air to have leading rusher Jordan Huff back in the line-up last weekend. The teams leading rusher toted the rock for 67 yards and a touchdown. Currently, Huff leads the Huskies with 507 yards on 91 carries and two touchdowns. Together with Marcus Childers, Northern Illinois’ ground attack sits 45th in the nation (189 ypg).
Marcus Childers spreads the ball around a little better than his counterpart Jon Wissink. In fact, five different receivers have brought in at least 25 passes or more on the year. Four of the five wideouts have all went well over 300 yards on the season. Furthermore, all five have found their way to pay-dirt. Like Western Michigan, Northern Illinois sports a pretty good tight end themselves. Shame Wimman has caught 27 passes for 266 yards and a team-high seven trips to the back of the end zone.
The Northern Illinois Huskies have been a pretty good defensive team in 2017. They are especially tough against the run. Their front seven is limiting teams to only 109 yards on the ground which is eighth-best in the nation. That should bode well for them as the Broncos are a run-heavy squad. Their secondary isn’t too shabby either. The back half allows 219 yards a game which is good for 59th in the country. All totaled, the Huskies give way to only 18 points per game (18th).
The Western Michigan Broncos are not the same team that coach P.J. Fleck led to a bowl game last year. Still, they have managed to keep themselves in the running for a title shot in the MAC. The problem is that the offense has struggled to stay balanced through the passing game this year. The Broncos are plenty capable of running the football effectively most of the time but this is Northern Illinois they are playing.
The Huskies might not a lot of things great but one thing they do really well is stopping the run. I believe this is going to create a lot of third and outs for the Broncos offense. Also, the fact that they are a much more balanced offense should give them an edge on the scoreboard as well. Yes, the Broncos have an opportunistic defense but the Huskies play pretty smart football. With that being said, the 10 point line here scares me in a MAC game with title implications.
Therefore, I’m suggesting that my readers stay away from the spread here and instead rely on the defenses to keep this game below the over/under 52.5. I don’t foresee Western Michigan scoring much on the ground here and Northern Illinois should be good for about 24-28 points. The Huskies beat the Broncos 28-20 and keep their MAC title hopes alive. #moneytreesgrow @EriktheHun
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The Broncos are 18-7 ATS in their last 25 road games.
The Over is 6-2 in the Broncos last 8 games overall.
The Huskies are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 Wednesday games.
The Under is 13-3 in the Huskies last 16 games in November.
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