Last Updated Nov 09, 2021, 4:00 PM

Ball State Cardinals vs. Northern Illinois Huskies Predictions, Odds, Picks

Nov. 10, 2021
Dan Dobish
VI Betting Expert
VegasInsider.com

The Ball State Cardinals (5-4, 3-2 MAC) hit the road to face the Northern Illinois Huskies (6-3, 4-1) in a key battle in the Mid-American Conference's West Division on Wednesday. Kickoff at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, Ill. is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and the game can be viewed on ESPN 2.

Score Prediction

Ball State 35, Northern Illinois 29

Best Bets

Ball State -2.5 (-110)

Over 61.5 (-110)

Ball State Cardinals vs. Northern Illinois Huskies Predictions

Ball State heads to DeKalb looking to fight to the top of the MAC West standings. The Cardinals are currently in a three-way logjam for second behind NIU, who is alone in first place at the moment with a 4-1 conference record.

NIU QB Rocky Lombardi was knocked out of last week's game at Kent State on a targeting call. He was lunging for the goal line and hit in the helmet late in the fourth quarter, forcing him from the game. While he was seen on the sidelines laughing and appearing to be fine after initially being woozy, he is still a question mark for this huge West Division game. That should give bettors pause, as seeing the first-place Huskies catching points at home seems too good to be true.

Ball State eased by Akron 31-25 last week, but didn't even sniff a cover as 20-point favorites on the road. The offense has had a bit of a power outage lately, averaging 24.0 PPG across the past two, both UNDER results. Ball State is also 0-2 ATS across the past two, although the defense has been respectable with 24.5 PPG allowed. NIU has found its offense in recent weeks, but again, Lombardi's health is a question mark.

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Ball State Cardinals vs. Northern Illinois Huskies Betting Odds

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Ball State Cardinals vs. Northern Illinois Huskies Betting Resources

  • Matchup: MAC
  • Date: Wednesday, November 10, 2021
  • Venue: Huskie Stadium
  • Location: DeKalb, Illinois
  • TV-Time: ESPN2 - 7:00 p.m. ET



Ball State Cardinals Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 5-4
  • ATS: 3-6
  • O/U: 3-6
  • ATS - Home: 1-3
  • ATS - Away: 2-3

Again, Ball State barely escaped a disappointing loss at InfoCision against Akron last week, scratching out a 31-25 victory as 20-point favorites as the UNDER just came in. The UNDER has been a common theme for the Cardinals, going 2-0 in the past two, and 6-3 in nine games overall. The non-cover against the Zips dropped the Cardinals to 2-3 ATS in five games on the road, too. After a three-game stretch with 28, 45 and 38 points on offense from Oct. 2-16, the offense has stalled a tad in the two previous games. While 31 points last week is encouraging, it was against the doormat Akron, and the Cards managed just three points in the final 21:41 of the game, seeing a 28-10 lead shrink to 31-25.

The good news last week is that Ball State did pressure the quarterback, recording three sacks, and it won the turnover battle with a plus-1 deficit. The Cardinals will need more of that to top Northern Illinois Wednesday. Ball State was also able to rush for 240 yards, and they shouldn't find a lot of resistance from NIU in that department. See below.

QB Drew Plitt threw for 185 yards and three touchdowns last week, but the Cardinals actually ran well in Akron. The Cards tossed up 240 yards on the ground, but again, it was Akron. This Ball State offense can be prolific, going for 31.7 PPG to rank 42nd overall. Defensively, Ball State has struggled, ranking 115th in total yards allowed with 449.3 per game, and it is 112th in scoring defense with 33.8 PPG allowed. That might make the ears of OVER bettors perk up immediately, but a newfound run-first mentality keeps the clock moving, and Ball doesn't hit the OVER as much as you would think.

Northern Illinois Huskies Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 6-3
  • ATS: 5-3-1
  • O/U: 5-4
  • ATS - Home: 2-1-1
  • ATS - Away: 3-2

Northern Illinois is sitting pretty atop the West Division standings, but it will have its hands full trying to stop the rushing attack of Ball State. The Huskies are just 117th in the nation with 204.9 yards per game allowed on the ground, and Kent State piled up 359 yards on the ground against the Huskies in last week's 52-47 setback to the Golden Flashes.

NIU's calling card on offense is the run game. The Huskies rank 15th in the nation with 221.4 yards per game on the ground, although it was Lombardi throwing for a school-record 532 yards with three touchdowns last week before departing. The run game wasn't bad, as RB Jeyvon Ducker went for 101 yards and two touchdowns, and FB Clint Ratkovich also found the end zone twice. But it was WR Trayvon Rudolph going off for 309 receiving yards on 14 grabs, posting three touchdowns, more than making up for the absence of leading receiver WR Tyrese Richie, who left the Kent State game with a leg injury. RB Harrison Waylee is also dealing with an undisclosed injury, and a question mark. If he could play, what a one-two punch it would be for NIU, pairing with Ducker.

NIU would prefer to pound the ball on the ground, and run-first means running clock, but lately NIU has hit the OVER. In fact, the OVER is 3-0 in its past three games, posting 34, 39 and 47, while the defense has coughed up 26, 38 and 52. Can we expect another shootout in this one? Well, NIU couldn't stop the run last week, and it allows 33.8 PPG, so this one could be fun.

Inside the Stats - Ball State Cardinals

  • Record: 5-4
  • VI Ranking: 80
  • Points Scored: 227
  • Points Allowed: 248
  • PS/G: 25.2
  • PA/G: 27.6

Inside the Stats - Northern Illinois Huskies

  • Record: 6-3
  • VI Ranking: 79
  • Points Scored: 285
  • Points Allowed: 304
  • PS/G: 31.7
  • PA/G: 33.8

Key Players to Watch

  • BALL: Drew Plitt - QB (170/269, 1,776 yards, 14 TD, 4 INT)
  • BALL: Justin Hall - WR (56 catches, 579 yards, 5 TD)
  • NIU: Rocky Lombardi - QB (133/230, 1,853 yards, 12 TD, 6 TD)
  • NIU: Trayvon Rudolph - WR (32 catches, 639 yards, 7 TD)

Ball State Cardinals vs. Northern Illinois Huskies Betting Conclusion

Ball State enters this game much healthier, as NIU has key players Lombardi, Waylee and Richie dotting the injury report. It's uncertain if one or any of them will be available, although it's most likely that Lombardi will be ready to go under center.

Still, there is a reason Ball State is favored, and that's because it has re-discovered the run game lately, and NIU cannot stop the rush. That will be the one key factor in this game. Northern's inability to stop the rush, and its key players on the injury report is not a very good combination. Ball State is looking to pull into a tie for first-place in the West Division, and grab the tiebreaker with the head-to-head win over NIU. It's all in front of them, and I think Ball State gets it done on the road over the banged-up Huskies.

Ball State Cardinals vs. Northern Illinois Huskies Betting Trends

  • Ball State is 14-3 ATS in the past 17 games against winning teams.
  • Ball State is 0-4 ATS in its past four Wednesday games.
  • Northern Illinois is 0-3-1 ATS in its past four as a home underdog.
  • Northern Illinois is 1-8 ATS in its past nine home games vs. teams with a winning road mark.
  • The OVER is 4-1 in Ball State's past five as a road favorite.
  • The OVER is 4-1 in Northern Illinois' past five as an underdog.


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