Boise State is 5-1 straight up and 4-2 against the spread over its last six bowl games; Northern Illinois is 0-3 both SU and ATS over its last three bowl appearances. As a result, the Broncos will try to continue their postseason run, while the Huskies will try to put a halt to it when the teams meet in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23 in San Diego.
Poinsettia Bowl point spread: Broncos opened as eight-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)
College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 40.2-30.2 Broncos
Why the Broncos can cover the spread
Boise State started this season 7-2, including a win over Washington and a loss at BYU, then fell out of contention in the Mountain West with consecutive defeats against New Mexico and eventual Mountain Division champion Air Force. But the Broncos picked themselves up to win their season finale against San Jose State 40-23, finishing at 8-4 overall and 5-3 in conference play.
Boise State spotted the Spartans an early 10-6 lead, then scored the next 20 points of the game to take control, going on to cover as an eight-point favorite on the road.
The Broncos outgained and outrushed San Jose State, and have now outgained eight of their last 10 opponents and outrushed seven of their last 10 foes.
Why the Huskies can cover the spread
Northern Illinois started just 2-3 this season, but two of those losses came at Ohio State and at Boston College (owner of the top-ranked defense in the nation) by a total of 10 points. The Huskies then won six games in a row before losing at home to Ohio 26-21. But NIU backed into the MAC West title when Western Michigan upset Toledo. The Huskies then ran into a pretty good Bowling Green State team in the MAC Championship Game and lost 34-14.
Northern Illinois, playing with its third-string quarterback in Tommy Fiedler, fell down to the Falcons 28-0, but rallied to push the spread as a two-touchdown underdog at 28-14. However, the Huskies gave up the game's next score early in the fourth quarter and couldn't get any closer.
Still, that was the first time in four spots this season as underdogs that the Huskies lost against the spread.
Boise State ranks 18th in the country in total offense and 24th in total defense, and rankings like that seem more applicable to a 10-2 or even an 11-1 team, rather than an 8-4 outfit. Northern Illinois, meanwhile, is playing with a banged-up backup quarterback. The smart money here backs the Broncos.
Northern Illinois is 1-5 ATS in its last six games in December.
Boise State is 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS in last six bowl games.
The total has gone under in six of Northern Illinois' last eight bowl games.
The favorite is 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS in the last six Poinsettia Bowls.