Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Northern Illinois Huskies Picks, Predictions, Odds

Dec. 4, 2021
Dan Dobish
VI Betting Expert

The Kent State Golden Flashes (7-5) and Northern Illinois Huskies (8-4) square off in the Mid-American Conference Championship Game Saturday at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich. Kickoff is scheduled for noon E.T., and the game can be viewed on ESPN.

Score Prediction

Kent State 45, Northern Illinois 40

Best Bets

Kent State -155 ML

Over 73.5 (-110)

Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Northern Illinois Huskies Predictions

These teams just met in mid-week MACtion on Nov. 3 at Dix Stadium in Kent, Ohio, and the Golden Flashes head off the Huskies in a title game preview, 52-47. If we get half of the action and offense of that game on Saturday, we're going to be in for a real treat.

In the victory on Nov. 3, Kent State rolled up 359 rushing yards with 322 more yards through the air, while NIU was more unbalanced with 532 passing yards and 131 yards on the ground. Either way, it was a tug-of-war all night, with NIU edging Kent State 32-31 in first downs. It was a mostly clean game, with just one fumble lost by the Huskies, and we also had just one sack allowed by NIU. The kicking game was a slight issue, as NIU misfired on its only field goal attempt.

When the dust settled at the end of that game in early November, QB Rocky Lombardi threw for 532 yards and three touchdowns, and he was knocked out of the game late in the fourth quarter on a lunge for the end zone, entering the concussion protocol. COVID-freshman RB Jason Ducker was the man in the run game, pounding out 101 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, picking up the pace. WR Tyrice Richie, who was the leading receiver at the time of the game, left the game early, but NIU wasn't down on the pass game. Up stepped WR Trayvon Rudolph, and all he did was break the single-game school record for receiving yards in a game with 14 grabs, 309 yards and three touchdowns, pushing Sam Hurd (Nov. 5, 2015 vs. CMU) to second place all-time.

The Golden Flashes had some eye-popping numbers of their own, as QB Dustin Crum crushed it with 322 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 72 yards and two more scores, and RB Marquez Cooper rolled up 173 yards and two more touchdowns. Xavier Williams also got into the act, hitting triple digits with 103 yards on the ground. In the pass game, all-everything WR Dante Cephas was good for five grabs and 124 yards.

One thing is clear when these teams line up. We're going to see A LOT of points.

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Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Northern Illinois Huskies Betting Odds

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Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Northern Illinois Huskies Betting Resources

  • Matchup: MAC Championship
  • Date: Saturday, December 4, 2021
  • Venue: Ford Field
  • Location: Detroit, Michigan
  • TV-Time: ESPN, 12:00 p.m. ET

Kent State Golden Flashes Betting Analysis

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

  • SU: 7-5
  • ATS: 6-6
  • O/U: 5-7

Kent State finished in first place in the MAC East despite being outscored overall on the season, but that's a bit misleading. The Golden Flashes were paid handsomely for three out-of-conference beatdowns from Texas A&M, Iowa and Maryland, which makes it look like the offense look like it wasn't as effective. But that's not the case. Since Oct. 9, Kent State has scored 30 or more points in seven consecutive games, and it's no surprise the OVER has hit in five of those seven outings. The defense did toss a shutout against Akron in the Wagon Wheel rivalry game Nov. 20 at InfoCision Stadium, but that game is sandwiched around 47 points allowed in an overtime win over Miami (Ohio) and 54 points allowed at Central Michigan on Nov. 10. They have allowed 47 or more points in three of the past four games, including the first NIU meeting.

Kent State does enter 4-1 ATS across the past five games, and they have covered consecutive outings. Oddly enough, Kent State has yet to cover in three straight games this season, last turning the trick with a 5-0 ATS run to close out the 2019 season from Nov. 5-Dec. 19, including a 51-41 bowl win against Utah State Dec. 20, 2019.

That Frisco Bowl win was Kent State's most recent appearance in a neutral-site game, and really the only one which matters as far as trends or betting in this game. Prior to that Frisco Bowl showing, the last time Kent State played a neutral-site game was Jan. 6, 2013 in the Bowl, a loss to Arkansas State. That was the same year these guys played NIU in the most recent MAC title game appearance for the Flashes, a 44-37 loss to push as seven-point 'dogs as the OVER hit. Oh yeah, Dustin Crum turned 14 the day before that Bowl loss, so you can see how little that means to this season's outlook.

Northern Illinois Huskies Betting Analysis

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

  • SU: 8-4
  • ATS: 7-4-1
  • O/U: 7-5

Northern Illinois has had a fun ride. It all started with an attention-grabbing 22-21 win at Georgia Tech as 19-point underdogs back on Sept. 4 at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, and the Huskies were paid a cool $1 million for showing up. Not a bad afternoon.

NIU has posted 21 or more points in all but one of its 12 games this season, a 63-10 beatdown in the Big House against Michigan. But that's about the only time the Huskies were manhandled, as they had a 50-43 loss at Wyoming, and the loss to Kent State was by five on Nov. 3. Perhaps you could count the regular-season finale against Western Michigan, a 42-21 loss. However, the MAC West was already clinched prior to that game, and backup QB Ethan Hampton started for Lombardi, and passed for just 23 yards. It wasn't nearly the same offense with the transfer portal star Lombardi sitting out, although Ducker did go for 104 yards in his usual solid showing.

NIU has posted a 4-1 ATS mark in the past five against winning teams, but they're not great when the calendar flips to December, or not great in neutral-site games. Peek these stats - the Huskies are just 2-14 ATS in the past 16 games played in the month of December, and they're 5-17-1 ATS in the past 23 neutral-site games. That includes their most recent bowl showing, a 37-13 loss to UAB in the Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 18, 2018. The Huskies won their most recent MAC title game showing on Nov. 30, 2018, a 30-29 victory over Buffalo as three-point underdogs as the OVER hit.

Northern Illinois is 5-17-1 ATS in its past 23 neutral-site games. (AP)

Inside the Stats - Kent State Golden Flashes

  • Record: 7-5
  • VI Ranking: 75
  • Points Scored: 401
  • Points Allowed: 415
  • PS/G: 33.4
  • PA/G: 34.6

Inside the Stats - Northern Illinois Huskies

  • Record: 8-4
  • VI Ranking: 76
  • Points Scored: 369
  • Points Allowed: 402
  • PS/G: 30.8
  • PA/G: 33.5

Key Players to Watch

  • KENT: Dustin Crum - QB (217/334, 2,794 yards, 26 total TDs, 4 INT)
  • KENT: Marquez Cooper - RB (211 rushes, 1,075 yards, 11 TD)
  • NIU: Rocky Lombardi - QB (173/295, 2,314 yards, 18 total TDs, 7 INT)
  • NIU: Trayvon Rudolph - WR (46 catches, 827 yards, 7 TD)

Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Northern Illinois Huskies Betting Conclusion

Northern Illinois has won the MAC Championship Game four times just since 2011, including its last pass in 2018 against Buffalo, a thrilling 30-29 win as three-point 'dogs. Kent State doesn't have the same kind of pedigree, appearing just once in this title game in 2012, and losing a heartbreaker to these very same Huskies in 2012 in double-overtime, 44-37.

But I think this is Kent State's time. They have a stud quarterback, a couple of top-notch running backs and a top-tier receiver. Neither team is going to play much defense here, and it's going to be an offensive show. The biggest winners will be the people who enjoy watching video-game football, with a basketball score, and those who slap money down at the window at Greektown Casino, MGM Grand Detroit or MotorCity Casino Hotel for an OVER ticket.

Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Northern Illinois Huskies Betting Trends

  • Kent State is 4-1 ATS in the past five games overall.
  • Kent State is 4-0 ATS in the past four as a favorite.
  • Northern Illinois is 5-17-1 ATS in the past 23 neutral-site games.
  • Northern Illinois is 3-13 ATS in the past 16 neutral-site games as an underdog.
  • The OVER is 5-2 in Kent State's past seven games overall.
  • The OVER is 4-0 in Kent State's past four vs. winning teams.
  • The OVER is 5-1 in Northern Illinois' past six games overall.
  • The favorite is 5-2-1 ATS in the past eight meetings between these teams.