BALL STATE CARDINALS (9-1)
at NORTHERN ILLINOIS HUSKIES (9-0)
Kickoff: Wednesday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Northern Illinois -6.5
Ball State and No. 20 Northern Illinois, both undefeated in the Mid-American Conference, battle it out to take control of the West division on Wednesday night.
Both the Cardinals and Huskies have had impressive seasons, and neither team has lost a game in the conference. Ball State (7-3 ATS) has lost one game on the season though, as it was defeated by North Texas by a score of 34-27. The Cardinals have beaten conference opponents by an average of 16.7 PPG over their six games, but have had close games against Toledo (31-24) and Kent State (27-24). In their most recent game, they racked up 549 yards of total offense and defeated Central Michigan 44-24. Northern Illinois (6-3 ATS) is a perfect 9-0 SU this season and has defeated conference opponents by an average of 25.0 PPG in five games. The Huskies, who rank 15th in the BCS standings, have scored more than 27 points in each one of their contests this season, and in their most recent game against UMass, scored a season-high 63 points on their way to a victory. In that win, they had 612 total yards of offense, including 354 yards on the ground. NIU is 11-5 SU and 9-6 ATS in the 16 games these two programs have played against each other since 1992. Last season when these two teams played, Northern Illinois won 35-23 on the road as 3-point favorites and used its ground game (314 yards rushing) to overcome the Cardinals, who dominated in the air (434 passing yards). NIU is 5-2 SU at home over the past seven games these two teams have played, but is only 2-4 ATS in the past six at Huskie Stadium.
Which team will stay unbeaten in the MAC? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 regular season and bowl season. The four experts are a combined 53% ATS (98-87-7) in college football Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Dave who is 59% ATS (31-22-2) in Best Bets this season, including 69% ATS (18-8-1) during a run of seven straight weeks of .500 or better. StatFox Brian is also 59% ATS (27-19-1) in college football Best Bets this year, including a 64% ATS (16-9) surge over the past five weeks. Last week he picked Virginia Tech to win straight up at Miami, and Florida State to win 52-3 over Wake Forest in a game the 'Noles won 59-3.
Ball State has scored a hefty 39.9 PPG this season (15th in nation) and has used its air attack to accomplish much of this scoring. QB Keith Wenning ranks fourth in the nation in both passing yards (3,164) and passing touchdowns (27). Wenning has also thrown only five interceptions this season and has not tossed one since Oct. 12 against Kent State. Over his past three games, Wenning has averaged 287.7 passing YPG with 12 touchdowns. Doing most of the work on the receiving end of things has been WR Willie Snead, who is third in the nation in receiving yards (1,175) and has added 12 touchdowns (3rd in FBS). Snead has had 100+ receiving yards in six of the teamís past seven games and has totaled eight touchdowns over the past five contests. With opposing teams defending against the pass so much, the Cardinals' run game has been very effective. HBs Jahwan Edwards and Horactio Banks have combined for 1,344 yards on 240 attempts (5.6 YPC) with 19 touchdowns. Banks had his best game of the season against Central Michigan this past week, running for 143 yards on just 11 carries (13.0 YPC) and scored a touchdown. CB Jeffery Garrett (41 tackles, 5 INT) has an interception in four of the teamís past five games and has helped the Cardinals hold opponents to 22.9 PPG during Ball Stateís current seven-game winning streak.
The Huskies currently rank eighth in the nation in scoring (44.2 PPG) and rank fourth in the nation in rushing offense (312.7 YPG). NIU has used QB Jordan Lynch effectively both in the passing game and the rushing attack. Through the air, Lynch has 1,871 yards with 19 touchdowns and five interceptions, which includes 383 yards, 5 TD and 0 INT over the teamís past two games. Where Lynch really shines is running the ball where he now has 1,150 rushing yards (7th in nation) on 173 attempts (6.6 YPC) with 12 touchdowns. He has averaged 178 yards on the ground with 8 TD over his past three games, including gaining 316 yards on the ground and scoring three touchdowns against Central Michigan on Oct. 19. Aiding Lynch in the running game is HB Cameron Stingily (784 rush yards, 8 TD) who has scored a rushing touchdown in six of the past seven games he has played. WR Tommylee Lewis has caught the ball 63 times this season but for only 552 yards (8.9 avg.) and three touchdowns. The Huskies red-zone threat through the air has been WR DaíRon Brown who has 480 receiving yards on 33 catches (14.5 avg.) and has a team-high seven touchdown receptions. The NIU defense has held opposing teams to 25.0 PPG this season and has lowered that number to just 20.0 PPG in conference play.