Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:01 PM
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Northern Illinois at Western Michigan
-- As of late Monday night, most betting shops had No. Illinois (7-4 straight up, 6-5 against the spread) installed as a 5.5-point road favorite with a total of 50.5. The Broncos were +180 on the money line (risk $100 to win $180).
-- Western Michigan (6-5 SU, 3-8 ATS) is 2-3 SU and 1-4 ATS in five home games this season. The Broncos have been home underdogs twice, getting blasted in both instances vs. Syracuse (55-42) and vs. Ohio (59-14). Those are the only home ‘dog spots during Tim Lester’s two-year tenure.
-- Western Michigan lost star junior QB Jon Wassink to a season-ending foot injury early in the first quarter of a 51-24 home loss to Toledo on Oct. 25. Wassink had completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 2,009 yards with a 16/6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He also had 162 rushing yards and six TDs. Wassink’s replacement has been true freshman Kaleb Eleby, who has connected on 69.7 percent of his throws for 632 yards with a 4/2 TD-INT ratio. He has one rushing score.
-- After losing vs. The ‘Cuse and at Michigan (49-3) to start the season, WMU ripped off six straight wins going into the home date vs. Toledo. But with Wassink going down early, the Broncos were routed by the Rockets and again the next week at home vs. Ohio. They lost a third consecutive outing last Tuesday at Ball State when the Cardinals won a 42-41 decision in overtime. WMU had a 548-353 advantage in total offense a 33-22 edge in first downs and was +1 in turnover margin. Eleby’s nine-yard TD pass to Giovanni Ricci with 1:48 remaining in the fourth quarter forced overtime. After Ball State scored on its first possession of the extra session, WMU answered with Eleby’s one-yard TD plunge. Lester opted to go for two, however, and the run attempt failed.
-- Eleby completed hit 20-of-29 passes for 187 yards and one TD without an interception. Junior RB LeVante Bellamy turned 35 carries into 213 yards and one TD, while senior RB Jamauri Bogan rushed 25 times for 105 yards and a pair of scores. Ricci had seven receptions for 65 yards and one TD.
-- Bellamy has rushed for 1,120 yards and six TDs with a 6.4 yards-per-carry average. He also has 23 catches for 127 yards and one TD. Bogan, who has 3,212 career rushing yards for 40 TDs, has rushed for 639 yards and 13 TDs while averaging 4.5 YPC this year.
-- True freshman WR Jayden Reed has emerged as a big-time playmaker, pacing the Broncos in receptions (49), receiving yards (707) and TD catches (eight). D’Wayne Eskridge has 30 grabs for 592 yards and three TDs, while Ricci has caught 32 balls for 357 yards and three TDs.
-- No. Illinois has already clinched the MAC’s West Division and will face Buffalo in the MAC Championship Game if the Bulls can win at Bowling Green on Friday.
-- NIU owns a 4-2 record both SU and ATS in six road assignments. The Huskies are 2-0 ATS in a pair of road ‘chalk’ spots this season. They’re a stellar 15-6 ATS in 21 games as road favorite during Rod Carey’s six-year reign as head coach.
-- NIU is ranked No. 123 out of 130 FBS teams in total offense and scoring with its 19.8 points-per-game average. The Huskies are No. 121 in passing yards, but they make up for its on the other side of the ball. NIU is 12th in the country in run defense, 21st in scoring ‘D’ (20.3 PPG) and 27th in total defense.
-- NIU junior DE Sutton Smith was the MAC’s 2017 Defensive Player of the Year when he recorded 14 sacks. He has produced 39 tackles, nine sacks, seven tackles for loss, seven QB hurries, four forced fumbles, two blocked punts including one returned for a TD and one pass broken up.
-- NIU had its six-game winning streak snapped in last week’s 13-7 loss to Miami (OH.) as a 6.5-point home favorite. The Huskies had a 369-201 advantage in total offense, but QB Marcus Childers threw a pick-six that gave the RedHawks the game-winning TD in the third quarter. Tre Harbison rushed for 103 yards on 16 attempts and RB Marcus Jones scored the lone offensive TD on a 29-yard scamper to paydirt.
-- Childers has completed 56.4 percent of his passes for 1,540 yards with a 10/7 TD-INT ratio. He’s rushed for 385 yards and five TDs. Harbison has rushed for a team-best 907 yards and four TDs while averaging 5.6 YPC. Jones has run for 523 yards and four TD with a 5.9 YPC average. Childers has two main targets in WRs Jauan Wesley and D.J. Brown. Wesley has hauled in 45 receptions for 511 yards and two TDs, and Brown has caught 46 balls for 370 yards and three TDs.
-- The ‘over’ is 6-5 overall for the Broncos, 3-2 in their home outings. They’ve seen their games average combined scores of 68.1 PPG.
-- The ‘under’ is 9-2 overall for the Huskies, 4-2 in their road contests. Their games have played to average combined scores of merely 40.1 PPG.
-- Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPNU.
Ball State at Miami-Ohio
-- This is a non-televised matchup that’ll kick at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. As of late Monday night, most spots had the RedHawks listed as 17-point home ‘chalk’ with at total of 54. The Cardinals were +625 on the money line (risk $100 to win $625).
-- Miami (5-6 SU, 7-4 ATS) is playing to get bowl eligible in this spot. The RedHawks have been a lucrative team to support for gamblers recently, as they’re 6-1 ATS in their past seven games. Chuck Martin’s team has won four of its past six games with the only defeats coming at Army (31-30 in overtime) and at Buffalo (51-42).
-- Miami is 2-3 SU and 3-2 ATS at home. Martin’s squad is 1-1 both SU and ATS as a home favorite. During his five-year tenure, the Red Hawks are 7-9 ATS as home ‘chalk.’
-- This will be senior QB Gus Ragland’s final home game. He has enjoyed another stellar campaign, completing 60.6 percent of his passes for 2,388 yards with a 16/3 TD-INT ratio. Ragland has a 55/11 career TD-INT ratio, in addition to 12 career rushing scores.
-- Miami’s leading rusher in Alonzo Smith, who has 539 rushing yards, six TDs and a 4.4 YPC average. Jack Sorenson is Ragland’s favorite target with 50 receptions for 706 yards and two TDs.
-- Ball State (4-7 SU, 5-6 ATS) snapped a three-game losing streak both SU and ATS with last week’s 42-41 overtime win over Western Michigan as a nine-point home underdog. James Gilbert ran for a pair of TDs and QB Drew Plitt threw for 258 yards and three TDs. Justin Hall had nine receptions for 117 yards, while Riley Miller had five catches for 94 yards and one TD.
-- Ball State junior QB Riley Neal (knee), last year’s leading tackler Jacob White (ankle) and last season’s leading rusher Caleb Huntley (Achilles) are ‘questionable’ at Miami. Neal, who has missed back-to-back games, has thrown for 1,917 yards with an 11/4 TD-IN ratio. He’s also rushed for 357 yards and five TDs. Huntley has missed five consecutive games, rushing for 187 yards and averaging 4.9 YPC in his team’s first six outings. White has recorded 59 tackles, 3.5 TFL’s, three PBU, one sack and one fumble recovery.
-- Plitt has connected on 68-of-102 passes (66.7%) for 833 yards with a 5/6 TD-INT ratio. Miller has 56 receptions for 807 yards and six TDs, while Hall has 66 catches for 589 yards. Corey Lacanarioa has caught 46 balls for 506 yards and three TDs.
-- Ball State is 2-3 ATS as a road underdog this year, 3-4 ATS as a road ‘dog during Mike Neu’s three-year tenure.
-- The ‘over’ is 6-5 overall for Miami, but it has seen the ‘under’ cash in back-to-back games and go 3-2 in its home contests. The RedHawks’ games have played to average combined scores of 52.7 PPG.
B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets
-- Really, Oscar?! What we saw Saturday from Urban Meyer on the sidelines of his Ohio State squad’s 52-51 double-overtime win at Maryland was a Drama Queen Performance for the ages! And for those of you – yes, I’m talking to a bunch of national media members – who witnessed it and became "worried" about Oscar’s health, wake the fudge up. We’ve seen this script before. Lest we forget, I called him on it nearly eight years ago. Like I’ve been saying since late August, it’s GUARANTEED he quits in January (at the latest). When times get tough, Oscar gets gone.
-- According to a report out of Arkansas, DBs Kamren Curl and Ryan Pulley are suspended for the regular-season finale at Missouri. Chad Morris told the media during his Monday scrum, "[2 DBs] will not be here today or yesterday or any part of this week for unacceptable behavior." Curl and Pulley, who have combined to make 20 starts this season, were reportedly seen taking photos and socializing with members of Mississippi State’s dance team before kickoff of this past Saturday’s 52-6 loss in Starkville. Curl is the Razorbacks’ fourth-leading tackler with 53 stops, five PBU, one forced fumble and one QB hurry. Pulley has produced 37 tackles, six PBU, three interceptions, one sack, 2.5 TFL’s and one forced fumble.
-- Here are some key players to monitor during Rivalry Week as they’re ‘questionable:’ Ole Miss RB Scottie Phillips, Texas QB Sam Ehlinger, Syracuse QB Eric Dungey, Illinois RB Reggie Corbin, Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook, Wyoming RB Nico Evans, Colorado QB Steven Montez, Tennessee QB Jarrett Guarantano, Oklahoma State RB Justice Hill and Texas Tech QB Alan Bowman.
-- The updated odds to win the CFP from The Westgate SuperBook look like this:
Notre Dame 12/1
Ohio State 25/1
Washington State 200/1
West Virginia 1,000/1
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.