Northern Illinois vs. Illinois State - 8/31/19 College Football Pick, Odds, and Prediction
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Illinois State at Northern Illinois
Saturday, August 31, 2019 at 6:00 PM (Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium)
Northern Illinois Huskies -5.5 -- O/U: 42.5 Click Here for the Latest Odds
The Illinois State Redbirds and the NIU Huskies meet in week 1 college football action from Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium on Saturday night.
The Illinois State Redbirds will look to improve on a decent 2018 season that saw the Redbirds finish with an overall record of 6-5, including 4-4 in Missouri Valley conference play to finish in a three way tie for fifth and not getting an invite to the national playoffs. Brady Davis is back under center for the Redbirds after a solid debut season after transferring from Memphis, throwing for 1,935 yards and 19 touchdowns on 55.9% passing. James Robinson is also back after leading Illinois State in rushing with 1,333 yards and 12 scores. Andrew Edgar and Virginia transfer Cole Blackman are expected to lead the receiving corps after Illinois State lost top receiver Spencer Schnell to the NFL. Defensively, the Redbirds lost their leading tackler in Zackary Mathews, but the next five leading tacklers return in Luther Kirk, Ty DeForest, Devin Taylor, Tuvone Clark and Romeo McKnight. As a team, Illinois State averaged 419 yards of total offense and 31.8 points per game while allowing 312.3 yards of total offense and 20 points per game last season, the 10th lowest scoring defense in the FCS last season.
The NIU Huskies will look to build on a solid 2018 season of their own, after finishing the season with an overall mark of 8-6, including 6-2 in MAC conference play to finish atop the MAC West division, earning a spot in the conference championship game where the Huskies upended Buffalo by a final score of 30-29, erasing a 19-point deficit from early in the 3rd quarter to the final whistle. The Huskies received an invite to the Boca Raton bowl where they lost to UAB by a final score of 37-13. Marcus Childers is back at QB for the Huskies after leading NIU with 2,175 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on 58.9% passing last season while also finishing second in rushing with 531 rushing yards and a team-high 6 ground TDs. Tre Harbison is also back to lead NIU’s ground attack after losing 1,034 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns last season. The Huskies lose their top two receivers from last year’s squad, but retain the services of Spencer Tears who caught 40 balls for 422 yards and 4 touchdowns last season. Dennis Robinson and Cole Tucker also remain in the Huskies’ receiving corps as a pair of speed receivers on the outside or in the slot. Defensively, 8 of NIU’s top 10 tacklers are back, including the linebacking group of Kyle Pugh, Antonio Jones-Davis and Lance Deveaux after combining for 303 tackles last season, led by Jones-Davis’ 130 tackles. Mykelti Williams is back at safety after finishing 3rd on the team with 75 tackles, while Devin Haney and Antwain Walker are expected to be the new leaders at corner for the Huskies. As a team, Northern Illinois averaged 322.3 yards of total offense and 20.1 points per game while allowing 357 yards of total offense and 22.6 points per game last season.
Illinois State is a solid team in one of the better teams in the FCS, but this is a solid line that we’re getting with one of the better teams in the MAC that’s bringing back a lot of talent on offense and a huge chunk of their defense. I just think that Northern Illinois winning this game by a touchdown in more than reasonable, so I’ll lay the points with NIU here.