Western Michigan-Northern Illinois MACtion Odds: Surprising Opening Line For Division Champs

Written By Julie Walker on November 21, 2021
Northern Illinois Western Michigan Eleby Novermber 2021

All that’s left is redemption and a bowl game for Western Michigan ahead of Tuesday’s regular-season finale with Northern Illinois.

The last sliver of a shot at a Mid-American Conference West title withered away after last week’s stunning 22-21 loss to Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti.

The loss also moved the Broncos to 0-4 against MAC West opponents this season as they hit the road take on the Huskies.

Can Western regroup in time to snag a victory against NIU?

Western Michigan at Northern Illinois: MAC Football Odds

Oddsmakers see last-place Western Michigan as slight road favorite

This mid-week MACtion football betting clash concludes the regular season for Western Michigan, which surprisingly opened as 3.5-point favorites against MAC West champ Northern Illinois.

As of Sunday evening, Caesars Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook both were on that early consensus 3.5-point line. BetRivers Sportsbook differed and gave the underdogs 4.5 points.

On the moneyline, all three of those operators had Western between -180 and -190 in early odds. Northern Illinois was a +145 to +155 moneyline underdog.

The over/under was similar from most Michigan sportsbooks, with the majority at 62.5 points. BetRivers was again a variant at 63.5 points, along with BetMGM Sportsbook.

Western went into the Week 11 matchup against Eastern Michigan favored by five points. The loss moved the Broncos to 4-5-1 against the spread on the season.

Northern Illinois has beaten the spread seven times this season.

How to watch: Western Michigan Broncos at Northern Illinois Huskies

  • What: Western Michigan (6-4, 3-4 MAC) at Northern Illinois (8-3,6-1)
  • When: 7 p.m., ET, Tuesday
  • Where: Huskie Stadium, DeKalb, Illinois
  • Radio: Bronco Radio Network

Western loses ‘Michigan MAC Trophy’ in stunner against Eastern

Chad Ryland’s leg helped boot Eastern Michigan over Western Michigan in a 22-21 win over the Broncos. Western quarterback Kaleb Eleby fumbled on a 10-yard run to help set up the game-winning field goal.

Ryland made five field goals in the contest, including the 20-yarder that earned it for Eastern near the end of the fourth quarter.

Western scored first in the second quarter and led the rest of the game until Ryland’s final kick. The Broncos’ comeback effort withered when Eleby was intercepted with 2:24 to play.

Eleby completed 22 of 29 passes for 307 yards and a touchdown, his third game of the season with more than 300 yards.

La’Darius Jefferson carried the ball 12 times for 86 yards. Sean Tyler had 10 carries for 52 yards and a touchdown.

Skyy Moore caught 12 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown. It was the sixth game where Moore netted 120 yards or more this season. The effort put the sophomore receiver’s numbers at 79 receptions for 1,050 yards and six touchdowns on the season, good for second in the MAC and 10th in the nation.

Turnovers marred Western’s offensive effort, and Eastern now has a two-game win streak in the series that the Broncos lead overall, 34-20-2.

The loss also means that the “Michigan MAC Trophy” will now head to Ypsilanti or Mount Pleasant, depending on the outcome of the Eastern-Central game on Black Friday.

Western held the intrastate award for six of the past seven years, excluding 2017, when Central won it. For 2019 and 2020, the trophy stayed in Kalamazoo by default as no Michigan MAC school went 2-0 against its fellow Mitten State foes.

NIU drops Buffalo in OT to secure MAC West Title

After snagging a one-point victory against Ball State in Week 10, the Huskies stretched last week’s contest against Buffalo into overtime.

Clint Ratkovich scored on a 25-yard run to give the Huskies a 33-27 win and the MAC West title.

Buffalo had tied it 27-all on a 55-yard field goal from Alex McNulty with 1:10 to play. The Huskies battled back, but John Richardson missed a go-ahead field as time expired.

Northern Illinois’ Demond Taylor Jr. recovered a Buffalo fumble at the Huskies’ 1-yard line to end the Bulls’ overtime possession.

The bulk of NIU’s 505 yards came on the ground. Quarterback Rocky Lombardi went 17-of-27 for 197 yards.

Wide receiver Trayvon Rudolph caught four passes for 80 yards and carried the ball three times for 94 yards and a touchdown. Antario Brown rushed three times for 71 yards and a trip to the end zone.

Cole Tucker caught 10 passes for 89 yards. Ratkovich finished with 11 carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns.

History gives Western a chance

Western leads the series 26-20, winning the most recent contest 30-27 in Kalamazoo in 2020.

The longest recent win streak belongs to the Huskies, who won seven straight from 2009 to 2015.

Photo by Carlos Osorio/AP
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Julie Walker

Julie has written, edited and designed words at five Michigan newspapers and websites. She’s worked on two sports desks, including at The Oakland Press and most recently at The Detroit News. Julie has contributed to stories on many big sports moments, from the NFL's 100th season to Super Bowls to Justin Verlander’s trade to the closing of the Palace of Auburn Hills.  Julie loves lakes, bonfires, Dachshunds, coaching Little League and carrying on her Dad’s fantasy football legacy that he started in 1987 — before there was an app for that.

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