Free Betting Pick & Vegas Game Odds: Akron vs Northern Illinois

The Northern Illinois Huskies will try to remain perfect in MAC play when they travel to face the Akron Zips. Kickoff is set for 7:00 EST on Thursday, November 1, at InfoCision Stadium in Akron, Ohio. Fans can find the game on CBS Sports Network.

Oddsmakers are listing Northern Illinois as 6.5-point favorites on the road. Click here to see a full list of the Week 10 college football odds.

Akron vs Northern Illinois Vegas Betting Line & Game Preview

Akron enters this week’s game coming off back-to-back wins. The Zips have knocked off Kent State and Central Michigan in their last two times out, helping them put a three-game losing streak in the rearview mirror. Unfortunately, at 4-3 overall and 2-2 in MAC play, Akron is going to have to win out and get a lot of help if they’re going to reach the MAC title game for the second straight season.

The good news for the Zips is that a bowl game is still within their reach. With two wins in their final four games, Akron will be bowl eligible for the third time in the last four seasons. Of course, they’re underdogs in this week’s game and will likely be so in at least one or two of their last three games, so the Zips may need to pull off an upset in order to reach a bowl.

Northern Illinois, meanwhile, is just one win away from bowl eligibility. After the Huskies lost their first two games of the season to Iowa and Utah, who are both top-25 teams right now, they have won five of their last six games. NIU escaped with a 1-point win against BYU last week and can now focus on the home stretch of the MAC season.

The Huskies are 5-3 overall and 4-0 in conference play. As long as they keep winning, there’s nothing that can keep the Huskies from reaching the MAC Championship Game. Of course, their November schedule is by no means easy. The Huskies will play four teams that are either alive in the MAC title race or fighting for a bowl spot, starting with Thursday’s trip to Akron.

Since they are on opposite sides of the MAC standings, Akron and Northern Illinois haven’t met since 2013. Despite meeting sporadically, the Huskies have won four straight games against the Zips. Akron’s last win over NIU came in the 2005 conference championship game.

College Football Free Pick Against the Spread: Akron +6.5

I have no doubt that Northern Illinois is the better team in this game. I won’t argue with the Huskies winning four in a row and being undefeated in MAC play. However, they haven’t won a game by more than eight points this season. That doesn’t fill me with confidence. I also have some concerns about the Huskies going on the road against a team that’s a little more desperate for a win. I’ll lean toward Akron to at least beat the spread and maybe have a chance to get the win at home.

For whatever reason, the Northern Illinois offense just hasn’t clicked this season. Beating BYU last week with just seven points on the scoreboard was a microcosm of their season. Obviously, playing Iowa, Utah, and Florida State in the non-conference season didn’t help. But the Huskies have scored no more than 26 points in any MAC game this season, which makes it tough to win by a touchdown and cover a 6.5-point spread.

Sophomore quarterback Marcus Childers started the second half of last season, but he’s taken a step backward this season, which has been surprising to see. To be fair, he’s still a serious threat to make plays with his legs. However, he’s already equaled his interception total from last season and surpassed the number of times he’s been sacked. Childers is also averaging just 4.5 yards per pass attempt, which is abysmal for any college quarterback.

The NIU rushing attack has been nearly as bad this season. Even with Childers being a threat to run the ball, the Huskies are averaging just 3.6 yards per carry this season. Meanwhile, the Akron defense has stepped it up over the past month. Even in a loss, the Zips were able to limit a 7-1 Buffalo team to just 24 points. Based on the inconsistency of the Northern Illinois offense, I’d be surprised to see the Huskies reach or exceed 20 points in this game.

If 20 points is the ceiling, I have faith that the Akron offense can score enough points to beat the spread. The Zips have been nothing special offensively this season either. Sophomore quarterback Kato Nelson has had his ups and downs just like Childers. However, he’s also a dual-threat quarterback who can make plays with his legs when things break down. The Huskies have been tough on defense this year, but they’ve given up at least 16 points in every MAC game, so they’re good but not dominant.

In the end, I expect this to be a close, low-scoring game through four quarters. Both teams are too good defensively and too unreliable offensively to make me think either team will win comfortably. With the spread at nearly a touchdown, I’ll side with the underdog Akron to at least beat the spread.

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