CMU Mildly Favored In Crucial #MACtion Battle With Northern Illinois

Written By Drew Ellis on October 19, 2021
Central Michigan Northern Illinois Football October 2021

It’s been a crazy start to the Mid-American Conference season, and Central Michigan still finds itself right in the mix heading into this weekend’s game against Northern Illinois.

After a dramatic homecoming win over Toledo on Saturday, the Chippewas can make a big impact in the MAC West race this week at home.

Do oddsmakers see CMU handing the Huskies their first conference loss?

Central Michigan vs. Northern Illinois: NCAA Week 8 Football Odds

Oddsmakers favor Central Michigan at home vs. Northern Illinois

Central Michigan will be hoping to give NIU its first MAC loss, but oddsmakers across the Michigan sports betting scene seem to think that is an expectation.

As of midday Tuesday, most sportsbooks were listing Central Michigan as a 5-point home favorite against the Huskies on Saturday. The lowest Tuesday line was with the Chips as a 4.5-point favorite at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Moneylines were at -200 for CMU in most instances, while Northern Illinois is at +170.

The over/under total was sitting at 57.5 points across the board.

CMU comes into this game at 3-4 against the spread and with the under hitting five of seven times. NIU is 4-2-1 against the spread, and with the under at a 4-3 edge on point totals.

Central Michigan has fared well against NIU in history. The Chippewas are 31-24-1 against the Huskies, winning six of the past seven encounters. CMU also has covered in seven straight with NIU.

For the latest odds in real-time, consult our tracker above.

How to watch: Northern Illinois vs. Central Michigan

  • What: Northern Illinois (5-2, 3-0 MAC) at Central Michigan (4-3, 2-1)
  • When: Noon ET, Saturday, Oct. 23
  • Where: Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mount Pleasant
  • TV: ESPNU (Announcers: John Schriffen, Dustin Fox)
  • Online livestream: ESPN+
  • Radio: CMU Sports Properties Radio Network

CMU survives Toledo

Central Michigan nearly blew a double-digit lead against Toledo, but managed to find a way to a 26-23 OT win over the Rockets last Saturday.

The Chippewas held a 20-3 lead early in the third quarter and still led 23-13 with 6:13 remaining, but saw the Rockets surge to force OT. The game-tying TD came with 35 seconds to play.

For the amount of scoring, both offenses had their struggles. CMU had just 332 total yards, while Toledo had 350. Neither had a turnover, but the two combined for 16 penalties.

Lew Nichols III led CMU’s offense with 134 rushing yards on 29 carries. He has been driving the offense all season with 725 yards on the ground.

Daniel Richardson seems to have settled into the starting quarterback slot after battling with Jacob Sirmon. Richardson has handled all QB duties for the last two games, both wins. He is 36 of 64 for 429 yards and three scores in those two wins.

Defensively, CMU has been strongest against the ground, allowing just 131.1 yards per contest. That average will be challenged by a run-heavy NIU offense. The Huskies are 11th nationally in rushing with 238.1 yards per game.

Huskies are winners of four straight

After a couple of losses in non-conference play, including a 63-10 rout at Michigan, NIU has won its past four.

Included in that run are three MAC wins, all by one possession. Their latest victory was 34-26 over Bowling Green at home on Saturday. The Huskies led 34-16 early in the fourth, but gave up the last 10 points to BG.

NIU’s reliance on the run showed up in the win, as they had 59 rushing attempts for 319 yards, while throwing just eight passes for 38 yards.

Former Michigan State quarterback Rocky Lombardi is under center and has been busier this season than Saturday’s game would indicate. Lombardi has thrown for 973 yards on 83 completions this season. He has six touchdowns with six interceptions while also rushing for 318 yards and five scores.

Leading rusher Harrison Waylee (574 yards) has missed the past two games with an injury. His status for Saturday’s game is listed as questionable.

In his absence on Saturday, Jay Ducker ran for 210 yards on 33 carries.

Defensively, NIU gave up 396 yards to Bowling Green. The Huskies have struggled against the rush this year, giving up 185.1 yards per game. That total ranks just inside the top 100.

It’s fair to say you can probably expect a lot of ground game in Saturday’s crucial MAC contest.

Photo by Derick Hingle/AP
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is the Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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