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MAC Championship Game: NIU vs. Bowling Green

Northern Illinois completed its first undefeated regular season in fifty years and is looking to win the MAC title for the third consecutive year.  The Huskies arrive in Detroit receiving all of the accolades in light of their 24-game regular season win streak and 25-0 conference record.  However, it is a terrible mistake to overlook a Bowling Green squad that has outscored its last four opponents by 40 points per game (+314 yards per game) and stands at a perfect 8-0 SU and ATS on the road versus conference opponents.  Let’s also note that the underdog is a profitable 7-2 ATS in the MAC Championship game since 2004, while also covering the last five title games at Ford Field.

Bowling Green’s strength is its defense that is allowing a mere 13.7 points per game at 4.2 yards per rush play, 5.4 yards per pass attempt and 4.8 yards per play.  The Falcons limited their last four opponents to just 175 yards per game, while holding their last three foes to season-low yards.  Even more impressive is the fact that Bowling Green has allowed just 57 rushing yards over its last four games, including limiting the conference’s best running back (Oliver; Buffalo) to 46 yards last week.

Bowling Green’s Defensive Accolades:

  • Over the last three games, the Falcons have allowed 4.7 points per game at 1.7 yards per rush play, 3.6 yards per pass attempt (41.7% completion rate) and 158 total yards (2.7 yards per play; 33.8 yards per point);
  • Bowling Green has limited conference opponents to 11.0 points per game this season at 3.7 yards per rush play, 4.5 yards per pass play and 244 total yards (4.1 yards per play; 22.2 yards per point).

Pro Edge also likes the fact that Bowling Green does not give up the big play as evidenced by the fact that the Falcons are allowing 21.6 yards per point to teams that combine to average 16.2 yards per point.  The Falcons also possess a capable offense that is averaging 34.4 points per game at 5.0 yards per rush play, 8.9 yards per pass attempt and 6.6 yards per play.  More importantly, Bowling Green enters the MAC Championship in excellent form as the Falcons are averaging 43.7 points over the last three weeks at 5.7 yards per rush play, 10.4 yards per pass play and 7.3 yards per point.  Overall, Bowling Green possesses a significant 1.0 yards per pass attempt and 0.2 yards per play advantage offensively over the Huskies’ stop unit.

Five Common Opponents Analysis:

  • Northern Illinois was 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS versus the teams’ common opponents faced, outscoring them by an average of 44-20 (+218 yards per game);
  • Bowling Green was 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS against these same teams, outscoring them by an average of 37-16 (+202 yards per game).

Finally, teams in conference title games who won 19 or more of their last 22 games are just 9-19-2 ATS, including 1-13-2 ATS when favored by seventeen points or less and coming off a win.  With MAC title game favorites off consecutive wins standing at 1-8-2 ATS in conference history, we recommend a solid wager on the live underdog (+4 at most outlets as of Wednesday afternoon).

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