Brigham Young vs Northern Illinois: Week 9 FBS Odds and Analysis

Football is always relative. The worst NFL team would look like a world-beater against a good NCAA team. Almost any Varsity squad could always beat its own frosh squad, even if the upperclassmen are hapless against everyone else.

Speaking of hapless against everyone, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors appear to be falling apart at the seams after a hot start. BYU whipped UH by more than 25 points last week. But Hawaii lost badly to Nevada the week before.

Should the Cougars get credit for knocking-off an upstart in the Mountain West? Or is Hawaii really tanking, allowing any competent team to post an impressive result?

College football odds-makers aren’t sure just yet. That’s why Brigham Young is less than a touchdown + XP favorite to beat the Northern Illinois Huskies of the MAC on Saturday.

Who: Northern Illinois at BYU

When: Saturday, October 27th, 3:30 PM EST

Where: LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, UT

Lines: NIU (+6.5) at BYU (-6.5) / OU Total: (41)

Northern Illinois at BYU: CFB Week 9 Betting Preview

Northern Illinois had a tough start to the year, managing only 13 points total in 2 opening losses. The Huskies improved since going 5-1 (4-0 in conference) and beating perennial MAC favorite Ohio 24-21 last week.

Head Coach Rod Carey’s usually-prolific offense has been stymied for the most part this season. The Huskies rank 125th in the nation it points per game, mostly due to their lack of passing. The team averages only 135 yards per game through the air. Sophomore QB Marcus Childers has only 8 TDs on the season to go along with 5 INTs and he’s already been sacked 18 times, already matching that season total from last season. NIU normally relies on a QB to put up rushing numbers as well, but Childers has only been able to run for 242 yards and 2 TDs.

The Huskie defense has been solid, ranking 46th in points allowed in 2018. Junior DL Sutton Smith, a potential early round NFL draft prospect, has 7 sacks on the season. Fellow junior LB Antonio Jones-Davis leads the team in tackles with 71, good for 30th in the nation.

The secondary holds their own but could benefit from more interceptions as the entire team has only 4 INTs. The Huskies do have 10 fumble recoveries this year, good for 2nd in FBS.

SB Nation has more on the Huskies’ lack of balance:

After rolling through an overmatched Hawaii defense in his first career start, BYU QB Zach Wilson and the rest of the Cougar offense will get a chance to prove themselves Saturday versus one of the toughest defenses on the schedule. Northern Illinois is 4-3 thus far, but all three of their losses have come to Power 5 teams Iowa, Utah and Florida State. NIU trailed Utah 7-6 with under 5 minutes to go in the fourth quarter before a late pick 6 gave the Utes a 17-6 victory.

Defensive end Sutton Smith is a future NFL player and the leader of the Huskie defense. After recording 14 sacks last season, Smith is tied for 10th in the country this year with 7 sacks. BYU will have their hands full all day as they look for ways to contain Smith.

While the defense has been great for the Huskies, the offense has largely been dreadful. Starting QB Marcus Childers has started all seven games and has yet to crack 1,000 passing yards on the season. He does have 242 rushing yards on the season, including 169 in their last game versus Ohio. Running back Tre Harbison leads the team in rushing with 442 yards (4.9 ypc) and 3 touchdowns.

The BYU Cougars have had a see-saw campaign. They had a massive win in Madison, beating the at-the-time 6th ranked Wisconsin Badgers 24-21. But they followed that up 2 weeks later by taking a 35-7 drubbing at the hands of the Washington Huskies.

Senior QB Tanner Mangum, who has seemingly been playing for the Cougars for 12 years, has only 5 TDs on the year. Mangum’s career has been more hype than results, so maybe the newcomer Wilson can provide a spark in ’18.

Senior RB Squally Canada, who missed last week’s win against Hawaii with an undisclosed injury, is their primary back but only has 334 yards and 5 TDs. He is expected to play this weekend.

Aside from the Washington game and the beating they took against Utah State, the Cougar defense has been pretty good. DL Corbin Kaufusi leads the unit with 6 sacks and 46 tackles. The senior also has 7 tackles for a loss. As a team they rank in the middle of the pack in points allowed and rushing yards against.

BYU ranks 39th in the country in passing yards per game. The secondary is led by junior DBs Austin Lee and Chris Wilcox who have 27 and 26 tackles respectively.

Prediction and Recommended Wager: BYU vs NIU

I’d love the Huskies to cover if they were playing at home on a snow-covered field. But the forecast in Provo calls for 67 degrees and a warm light breeze.

That should be just enough for an improving MWC offense to out-last a strong defensive squad from the MAC.

Take the Cougars to win by 7 or more points on Saturday.

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