Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#143 Northern Illinois (NIU) vs.
#144 Ball State
Saturday, October 1, 2022 at 2:00pm EDT
Written by Dave Kovaleski

Two Mid-American Conference foes go at it on Saturday as the Ball State Cardinals host the Northern Illinois Huskies. Both teams are 1-3 on the season, while Ball State is 0-1 in the conference. This is the first conference game for Northern Illinois. The Huskies have won 8 of the last 10 matchups between the two, including last season, as they won 30-29 as a three point favorite. Northern Illinois is a 3.5 point favorite in this game.

Northern Illinois hangs with Kentucky

The Northern Illinois Huskies struggled in their opener, beating Eastern Illinois 34-27 as a massive 34-point favorite. They had a big lead and almost let it slip away. The Huskies followed that with three straight losses, but to all power conference teams. They lost 38-35 to Tulsa of the American Athletic Conference, Vanderbilt of the SEC 38-28 and No. 7 Kentucky of the SEC 31-26 as a 26-point underdog. They are now ranked No. 94 in the country. But as they head into the conference schedule, there is definitely something to build on here with this strong showing at Kentucky.

The Huskies really went toe-to-toe with the Wildcats. They were tied at 14 at halftime and would not go away in the second half. Kentucky outgained the Huskies 406 to 327, and they had 18 first downs to 14 for NIU. On the plus side, they had 5 sacks and won the turnover battle, forcing a fumble. Quarterback Ethan Hampton was 13 of 25 for 196 yards and 1 touchdown with 0 picks. Wide receiver Shemar Thornton also threw a touchdown pass on a trick play. Tristen Tewes caught 6 passes for 37 yards and 2 touchdowns. Harrison Waylee ran for 63 yards while Antario Brown had 37 yards as the Huskies had more rushing yards than Kentucky. The Huskies average 30 points per game, which ranks 75th, and they give up 33.5 points per game, which is 106th.

Ball State loses lead in 4th

The Ball State Cardinals are also 1-3 on the season and they are 0-1 in the MAC. They got smoked by No. 8 Tennessee in their opener by the score of 59-10 and then lost to MAC foes Western Michigan 37-30 in week two. They just missed a cover as 6.5-point underdogs. They got their only win in week three against Murray State, winning 31-0 as a 22-point favorite, and then lost last weekend 34-23 at Georgia Southern as 9.5 point underdogs. The Cardinals took a 23-20 lead early in the fourth quarter on a Ben VonGunten field goal, but then they couldn't hold the lead, surrendering two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

The good news is Ball State had almost 500 yards of total offense, 496 yards to be exact. The problem was they weren't effective enough in the red zone, settling for too many field goal attempts, and they couldn't stop Georgia Southern, who had 474 total yards. Quarterback John Paddock had a good game, going 33 for 47 for 338 yards and 2 touchdowns with 1 interception. Jayshon Jackson caught 10 passes for 122 yards and 1 touchdown. Also, Carson Steele ran for 119 yards on 5.2 yards per carry. They average 23.5 points per game, which ranks 102nd and they give up 32,5 points per game, which ranks 103rd.

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Full-Game Side Bet

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This should be a fairly competitive game, reflected in the 3.5-point line. But when the rubber meets the road late in this game, look for Northern Illinois to pull away and cover. Ball State has had trouble finishing and getting the ball in the end zone and that hurt them last weekend. Meanwhile, Northern Illinois is coming off a game where they gave No. 7 all it could handle and sacked their Heisman candidate quarterback Will Levis five times. Northern Illinois has shown they can play with anyone in the country, so they should be able to take care of business against a pedestrian Ball State team, giving up just 3.5 points. Take the Huskies here giving up the points.

Prediction: Northern Illinois -3.5

Full-Game Total Pick

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Both of these teams have potent offenses. Northern Illinois averages 30 points per game and while Ball State averages about a touchdown less, they average 440 total yards per game, more than NIU, so they can move the ball. Their problem has been in the red zone. In this game, look for the offenses to move the ball up and down the field against two relatively weak defenses. Ball State likes to chuck the ball and NIU is weak against the pass while NIU favors the ground game and that is not a strength of the Cardinals' defense. This game could see both teams in the 30s. Take the over here.

Prediction: Over 59.5
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Written By Dave Kovaleski , "Dave Kovaleski"

Dave has covered every major sport with passion and expertise for national sports publications and we are very happy to have him as a part of our team here at Winners & Whiners and StaSalt. In addition to being a sportswriter and sports bettor, Dave has also worked in the financial industry and brings a critical eye for numbers to his analysis of games. Dave thoroughly researches the statistics to spot the trends and break down the matchups to successfully find the winners in the NFL, NBA, MLB, college hoops, and other sports. You will not be disappointed in following Dave on a daily basis.