Free Betting Pick & Vegas Game Odds: Northern Illinois vs Miami Ohio

The Northern Illinois Huskies will try to wrap up the MAC West division and secure a spot in the conference championship game when they host the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks in midweek MACtion. Kickoff is set for 8:00 EST on Wednesday, November 14, at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, Illinois. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

The Huskies have opened the week as 6.5-point favorites at home. Click here to see a full listing of this week’s betting odds in college football.

Northern Illinois vs Miami (Ohio) Vegas Betting Line & Game Preview

As mentioned, Northern Illinois is one win away from returning to the MAC Championship Game for the first time since 2015 and the fourth time in Rod Carey’s tenure. The Huskies began the season 1-3 against a challenging non-conference schedule. But it’s been smooth sailing ever since. NIU has rattled off six straight wins to get them to 7-3 overall and a perfect 6-0 inside the MAC.

A win over Miami on Wednesday is all the Huskies need to clinch the MAC West division. They can also ensure a spot in the title game if Western Michigan loses to Ball State on Tuesday. On the off chance that Western Michigan wins Tuesday and NIU loses Wednesday, the game between those two teams next week will decide the winner of the West division.

The Redhawks, meanwhile, are just trying to become bowl eligible. Miami kept hope alive last week with a win over the Ohio Bobcats. On the season, the Redhawks are just 4-6 after losing all four of their non-conference games. However, they’ve fared well in MAC play, going 4-2 with their only losses coming to Western Michigan and Buffalo by a combined 10 points.

Nevertheless, Miami has no choice but to beat both Northern Illinois and Ball State in their final two games of the season to become bowl eligible. The Redhawks have played in just one bowl game in Chuck Martin’s four seasons, so the program needs this after coming up one win short of bowl eligibility last year.

Moreover, wins over Northern Illinois have been hard to come by for the Redhawks. These two teams don’t play every year, but Miami has just one win over NIU in their last eight games against the Huskies, with that one win coming in the 2010 MAC title game. The Redhawks haven’t won in DeKalb since 1998.

College Football Free Pick Against the Spread: Miami (Ohio) +6.5

The Redhawks are desperate enough and just good enough to keep this game competitive and beat the spread. Beating Northern Illinois on the road will be tough to pull off. But I’m not sure I see the Huskies pulling away in this game. I like NIU to win, but I’ll take my chances with Miami beating the spread.

Prior to their last two games, Northern Illinois was having all kinds of trouble beating teams by comfortable margins. NIU’s first five wins of the season all came by single-digit margins. That has changed the last two weeks with a 10-point win over Akron and a 23-point win over Toledo. However, I’m not sure if I guy that trend continuing this week.

I hesitate to believe the Huskies can keep scoring enough points to win by wide margins because they’re still not an explosive offensive team. Quarterback Marcus Childers still has just one game this year in which he’s thrown for over 200 yards, and that was back in September. He and the Huskies have had some big games on the ground the last few weeks, leading to a sudden burst in points. But the Huskies are still averaging just 21 points per game this season.

Admittedly, Miami is average at best defensively. They are giving up roughly 28 points per game against MAC opponents, although their defense has been up and down all season. However, they’ve faced two of the better offensive teams in the MAC in Buffalo and Ohio in their last two games. That should put them in a good position to handle a rather limited Northern Illinois offense.

Of course, it’s the NIU defense that has carried the Huskies all season. Despite some tough non-conference games early in the year, the Huskies are giving up just 21 points per game. Keeping the Redhawks to a minimal point total is probably NIU’s best chance to cover the spread rather than relying on their offense to score 30-plus points for the third straight game. 

But Miami’s offense is no pushover. Senior quarterback Gus Ragland boasts a lot of experience. In MAC play this year, Ragland has completed over 65% of his passes with nine touchdowns to just two interceptions. Even against a good defense, the Redhawks can rely on him to make plays and avoid costly turnovers. Miami also has a solid running game led by senior Alonzo Smith, who has looked strong the past couple of weeks. The Redhawks should be able to have some success against the NIU defense.

With the Redhawks knowing they need a win, I think they’ll pull out all the stops and leave everything on the field. Against a team like Northern Illinois, that may not be enough to get the win. But they won’t make it easy on the Huskies, so I think Miami can at least beat the 6.5-point spread.

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