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Northern Illinois hopes to bounce back following a tough loss last Saturday to Central Michigan 48-10. On the season, the Huskies are 3-6 with a 2-3 record in MAC play. They're currently in fifth place in the MAC West Division and are a game behind Toledo, their opponent this Wednesday.
The Rockets enter the contest on a hot streak, as they've won their last two games in clutch fashion. Toledo has a 6-3 record with a 3-2 record in MAC play. Most importantly, they're 5-0 at home this season.
This makes Wednesday's contest imperative for both teams, who are hoping to improve their standing in the MAC West race. The game takes place at the Glass Bowl Stadium in Toledo, Ohio. Kickoff is at 8 p.m. EST and it airs on ESPN.
The Huskies are struggling down the stretchDefensively, Northern Illinois wins or loses games in early down situations, where if they stop the run, they can lean on strong safety play to force the issue on other downs. That's going to be a huge challenge against the Rockets. Toledo features one of the best rushing offenses in the country, generating almost 250 yards per game.
Moreover, because the Huskies are playing with two walk-ons at linebacker due to injuries, the focus this week is on the play from their defensive tackles. If they're able to plug gaps to shut down Toledo running back Bryant Koback, they can force the Rockets into three and outs.
Offensively, the Huskies have found their identity through a solid running attack. Leading that charge is Tre Harbison, who has 741 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the season. He should have a big game against a Rockets' defense that's 101st in the country in rushing yards allowed with 196 per game. The Huskies must use this advantage to control the tempo of the game.
The Rockets are hitting their strideToledo is bowl eligible thanks to running back Shakif Seymour's breakout game against Kent State, where he rushed for 175 yards and two touchdowns. The Rockets' defense also came up clutch by shutting down a two-point conversion attempt by the Golden Flashes at the end of the game.
Toledo enters this contest winning six of their last eight contests. During their recent run, they've relied heavily on Koback to generate offense and he's done a remarkable job. He should have another opportunity for a big game against a Huskies' defense that allows 175 yards on the ground per game. If Toledo's offensive line wins the battle upfront, it should open up some huge gains for Koback.
Defensively, the Rockets' focus is on shutting down Northern Illinois' rushing attack. This is one area where the Huskies hold an advantage. If Toledo doesn't fill the gaps and win the battle at the line of scrimmage, Northern Illinois has a great chance of pulling off the upset.
Trends found on Covers.com Toledo is:
- 5-0 this season
- 4-1 ATS against opponents with a losing road record
Northern Illinois is:
- 2-8 ATS after scoring more than 40 points in their previous game
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Rockets enter this contest the better all-around team at this point of the season. While Northern Illinois will have success against a Toledo defense that struggles to contain the run, the Rockets fire back with a high-octane running game of their own. And their ability to make explosive plays proves to be the difference in this one. Look for Toledo to go ahead early as Northern Illinois plays catch-up most of the game. The Huskies' offense isn't built to overcome this, so the Rockets win a close contest.
Prediction: Toledo -2.5
Full-Game Total Pick
The offenses should have success on Wednesday, given both teams' strengths are running the ball and both teams' defensive weaknesses are shutting down the run. Additionally, Toledo is 4-1 in the Over in their last five games against teams with a losing record. Expect this trend to continue, as both offenses score regularly in a higher-scoring contest the Rockets win by one possession.