The MAC Championship takes place on Friday and we will see the Northern Illinois Huskies take on the Kent State Golden Flashes at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. The game is scheduled for a 7:00 PM (Eastern) start time and it will be televised live on ESPN 2. Currently the odds for the game have Northern Illinois favored by 7.5 points, while the total sits at 58. Check out Sportsbook Spy to find out what side the Public is taking on all today's games.
Free Analysis: The Mid-American Conference Championship will feature two ranked competitors for the first since 2003 as the 19th-ranked Northern Illinois Huskies and the 18th-ranked Kent State Golden Flashes head to Ford Field to battle for the league title and possibly a trip to a BCS Bowl. Kent State is ranked 17th in the most recent BCS standings, while NIU occupies the 21st slot in the poll. BCS rules guarantee a spot in a BCS bowl to conference champions from non-automatic qualifying conferences if it finished in the top 12 in the final BCS standings. However, if a conference champion outranks a conference champion from a BCS league, it only needs to rank in the top 16 to earn a BCS bowl bid.
Northern Illinois has certainly made a case for itself. The defending league champions came up short in their season opener and lost to Iowa by one point at Soldier Field. Since then, it has been nothing but checks in the win column. The Huskies have won 11 straight games since their bout with Iowa by an average of 25.1 points per contest, making them the only team in the FBS with 20 wins in their last 21 appearances. NIU has excelled on offense due to the stellar play of Jordan Lynch. The junior signal caller is the most productive duel threat quarterback in the FBS. In the regular season finale, Lynch set an NCAA record for most consecutive 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback which led his season total to 1,611 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground, leaving him just 92 yards shy of breaking the record for most rushing yards in a season by a QB. Lynch is not just a scrambler. He has completed 63.6 percent of his passes for 2,750 passing yards with 23 touchdowns to only four interceptions. Marten Moore can testify to Lynch's passing skills. The senior wideout finished the regular season with 1,015 yards and 11 touchdowns on 67 receptions, all-career highs. NIU was one of the top teams in the conference on the defensive side of the ball as well. The Huskies ranked second in the MAC in scoring defense and third in total defense with allowed averages of 17.5 points and 364.8 yards of total offense per contest. Alan Baxter and Sean Progar both registered 8.5 sacks to spearhead a pass rush that made 34 sacks to rank second in the league.
Kent State has followed a similar path, as it comes in on a 10-game winning streak. The Golden Flashes shattered a 90-year program record for victories on their way to an 11-1 record. Coach Darrell Hazell took over the program following a 5-7 finish in 2010. After he guided the team to the same record in his first year, Kent State was not expected to be competing for the league title this season. KSU had the biggest turnaround in the FBS in terms of wins after going unbeaten in MAC play during the regular season for the first time in school history. It also picked up a win over a ranked opponent for the first time in school history with a 35-23 decision at Rutgers The team will be playing in a bowl game for just the third time in school history and for the first time since 1972. The Huskies have not faced an offense with a player as talented as Dri Archer. The Golden Flashes' junior tailback is the biggest home run threat in the nation and the only other candidate for the MAC Player of the Year besides Lynch. Archer is gaining 9.7 yards per carry, which is the highest single-season average this century. The elusive and speedy rusher finished the regular season with 1,337 yards and 14 touchdowns on 138 carries. Archer has certainly drawn the attention of his upcoming opponent. The Huskies will also have to stop Archer in the passing game as he leads the team with 458 yards and four TDs on 30 receptions. He is also the nations leading kick returner with 573 yards and three TDs on 15 returns. Spencer Keith will be under center for the Golden Flashes. The senior QB has provided leadership as the team's signal caller, but he has been struggling down the stretch. Keith was picked off four times in the final three games after only throwing three interceptions in the first nine contests. He still finished with 1.674 yards 11 touchdowns to seven interceptions on 151-of-264 passing. The Golden Flashes are not quite as limiting as their opponent with allowed averages of 409.9 yards and 23.5 points per outing. However, Kent State forced 35 turnovers to finish second in the nation in turnover ratio (+20). The defensive unit was very good against the run, as it ranked 23rd in the FBS and second in the MAC with 128 rushing yards allowed per game.
Free Pick: Both of these teams have had great years, but I feel that Northern Illinois will finish the deal. The Huskies have just rolled over everyone this year, flowing the loss to Iowa in the opener. Not only have they won their last 11 games, but they did so by an average of 25.1 ppg. Offensively the huskies have a big edge as they average 80 ypg and 6.1 ppg more than the Golden Flashes average. The big weakness on defense for KSU is their pass defense that is 116th in the nation, allowing 281.9 ypg and will have problems vs the NIU offense that can throw, putting up 237.6 ypg through the air. The Huskies also have the edge on the defensive side of the ball where they allow 45 ypg and 6 ppg less than the Golden Flashes do. Too much offense and the better defense should give NIU another win by DD.
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College Football Free Picks: Northern Illinois vs Kent State (Best Bet)
What college football bettors need to know about Northern Illinois Huskies vs Kent State Golden Flashes on Friday (11/30/12) - a best bet from Pregame.com's Chris Andrews, with Vegas Runner and Chuck Edel.