2018 MAC Championship Game: Odds, Analysis, College Football Betting Pick

OddsShark.com@@OddsSharkFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2018

Northern Illinois' Marcus Childers looks for a receiver in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game with Florida State, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Tallahassee Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
STEVEN CANNON/Associated Press

Since becoming conference rivals 20 years ago Northern Illinois is 10-0 straight up and 7-3 against the spread in the series with Buffalo. But it's the Bulls who are favored over the Huskies for the MAC championship game on Friday night in Detroit.

College football point spread: The Bulls opened as four-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)

College football betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 25.0-15.0 Bulls (College football picks on every game)

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Why the NIU Huskies can cover the spread

NIU won six games in a row into November to take the lead in the MAC West, and while it lost its last two games, close ones to Miami-Ohio and Western Michigan, the Huskies backed into yet another division title.

Most recently Northern Illinois fell to the Broncos two Tuesdays ago 28-21. That game was tied at 21-21 when Western Michigan took the final lead on with a touchdown with a minute and a half to go, and NIU could not respond.

Just prior to that the Huskies lost to Miami-Ohio 13-7 on a pick-six in the third quarter.

Nonetheless, Northern Illinois has out-rushed each of its last four opponents, and seven of its last eight foes. It's also 5-3 ATS its last eight times out. On the season the Huskies are 2-3 SU and 3-2 ATS as underdogs.


Why the Buffalo Bulls can cover the spread

Buffalo capped off its season with a 6-1 run, after beating Bowling Green last Friday 44-14. The Bulls punted on their first possession of that game, then scored touchdowns on their next four and led 34-7 at the half. Buffalo then put the second half on cruise control and covered as a 15-point favorite.

On the night UB out-gained the Falcons 487-207, held a huge 30-6 advantage in first downs, out-rushed Bowling Green 336-60 and won time of possession by a lopsided margin of 44/16.

The Bulls have now out-gained six of their last seven opponents and out-rushed five of their last seven foes, going 6-1 ATS over that span. Buffalo is also 4-0 ATS this season when favored by seven points or fewer.


Smart betting pick

In the most recent meeting between these teams Northern Illinois beat Buffalo last season 14-13. But the Bulls have passed the Huskies in the MAC hierarchy since then. And while these two defenses are almost exactly equal, Buffalo's offense is 100 yards per game better than NIU's. The smart money here bets the Bulls.


College football betting trends

The total has gone under in four of Northern Illinois's last five games vs Buffalo.

Buffalo is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games.

The total has gone under in nine of Northern Illinois's last 12 games.

All college football odds and betting trends according to Bleacher Report's official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week's top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.