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No. 20 Northern Illinois visits Toledo Wednesday
By: Freddy Wander - StatFox
Published: 11/20/2013  at  4:31:00 AM
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Kickoff: Wednesday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Northern Illinois -3

No. 20 Northern Illinois continues its quest for a perfect season on Wednesday, but will first need to defeat red-hot Toledo, winners of five straight.

The Huskies are creating a lot of noise in the BCS with their undefeated season and domination of the Mid-American Conference. They are ranked 16th in the BCS, and are coming off an impressive 48-27 win against Ball State, in which the game was tied going into the final quarter and NIU outscored the Cardinals 21-0 in the fourth. The Rockets will not roll over in this game though. Winners of their past five contests (4-1 ATS), they could still have a chance at the conference championship with a win. Toledo defeated Buffalo last week by a score of 51-41 with the teams combining for 1,152 yards of total offense. In last season’s game between these two programs, the Huskies took a 31-14 lead early in the fourth quarter but nearly allowed the Rockets to make a comeback, with a final score of 31-24. That meeting clinched a spot in the MAC championship game for the Huskies just as this one could this year. The Rockets are 12-5 SU (10-4 ATS) when facing NIU since 1992, with the average total of the game being 58.0 points. Toledo has yet to lose SU in five contests at home this season (4-1 ATS) and is averaging 46.2 PPG and 552.8 YPG in those games. HB David Fluellen (Achilles) has missed the Rockets' past two games and is questionable for Wednesday’s game.

Can Northern Illinois stay unbeaten in a tough road environment on Wednesday night? 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 54% ATS (105-91-7) in college football Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Dave who is 59% ATS (32-22-2) in Best Bets this season, including 70% ATS (19-8-1) during a run of eight straight weeks of .500 or better. StatFox Brian is also 59% ATS (30-21-1) in college football Best Bets this year, including a 63% ATS (19-11) surge over the past five weeks. StatFox Gary is 53% ATS (17-15-1) in college football Best Bets for the season, and is coming off a perfect 2-0 ATS week.

Northern Illinois has not gone undefeated by luck, deploying a rushing attack which ranks 8th in the nation (303.8 YPG) and has scored 44.6 PPG (6th in FBS). QB Jordan Lynch has 1,273 rushing yards (8th in nation) on 6.6 YPC, and has 317 more rushing yards than the next highest quarterback. Lynch has the ability to throw the ball as well with 2,216 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He put together his best game through the air last week against Ball State going 26-for-32 (81.3%) for 345 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Lynch also added 123 rushing yards (6.2 YPC) and two touchdowns on the ground. Aiding Lynch in the ground game has been HB Cameron Stingily (812 rush yards, 9 TD) who has scored a rushing touchdown in each of his past five games played, but has only 86 yards on 15 carries (5.7 YPC) over the past two weeks. WR Da’Ron Brown leads the team in both receiving yards (689) and touchdowns (9) and is coming off his best game of the season when he gained 209 yards with 2 TD. S Jimmie Ward (64 tackles, 5 INT) and the rest of the NIU defense has held conference opponents to 21.2 PPG and has forced 22 turnovers (2.2 per game) on the season.

Toledo also uses the run game to defeat its opponents, ranking 14th in the nation with 247.3 rushing yards per game. The Rockets have been without their top running back, David Fluellen (1,067 rush yards, 10 TD), for the past two weeks, but he is probable to return from an Achilles injury for this matchup. If Fluellen is not effective, HB Kareem Hunt (672 yards, 6 TD) will take over. This is not such a bad option, as Hunt has rushed for 110+ yards and at least one touchdown over the past four games, totaling six scores. QB Terrance Owens has thrown for 1,837 yards (7.2 YPA), 13 TD and 6 INT this season, and has really elevated his game over the team’s recent five-game win streak, throwing 10 touchdowns and only one interception. WR Bernard Reedy has 736 receiving yards (13.4 avg.) with six touchdowns on the year, and is coming off his best performance to date with 149 receiving yards and 2 TD. DE Jayrone Elliot (61 tackles, 7 sacks) will do his best to help the Rockets' defense in stopping the high-paced NIU offense. Toledo has given up 27.7 PPG this season and has allowed 159.6 rushing YPG to its opponents.

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