Cure Bowl Picks, Predictions and Odds: Northern Illinois vs. Coastal Carolina

Dec. 17, 2021
Jonathan Willis
VI Betting Expert

The Northern Illinois Huskies will be the second MAC team to begin Bowl Season this year as they take on the Sun Belt's Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. Kick off is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. ET and will air on ESPN2 from Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida.

Score Prediction

Coastal Carolina 28, Northern Illinois 24

Best Bets

Under 64 (-110) at Circa Sports

Cure Bowl Predictions

The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers have been one of the most beloved Group of Five teams in the country over the last two years. Coastal Carolina burst onto the scene with an 11-1 record and a trip to the Cure Bowl last season, and the Chants are again heading to the Cure Bowl with double-digit wins in 2021. They are significant favorites over the MAC champion Northern Illinois Huskies on Friday evening in Orlando.

Northern Illinois won the MAC, but this was one of the most fortunate teams in the country. The Huskies won seven of their nine games by one possession or less, and they won in the final possession or overtime in five of those games. They have only been blown out twice all season though, so they have a good chance to stay within the number.

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Cure Bowl Betting Resources

  • Matchup: MAC vs. Sun Belt
  • Date: Friday, December 17, 2021
  • Venue: Exploria Stadium
  • Location: Orlando, Florida
  • TV-Time: ESPN2, 6:00 p.m. ET

Northern Illinois Huskies Betting Analysis

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

  • SU: 9-4
  • ATS: 8-4-1
  • O/U: 7-6

Michigan State transfer Rocky Lombardi is the starting quarterback for Northern Illinois. Lombardi hasn’t been great, but he has been effective at moving the ball for the Huskies. He is completing 58.1% of his passes for 7.8 YPA with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions, and he has only been sacked eight times behind an offensive line that includes Nolan Porter and Brayden Patton.

This is one of the best ground games in the country. Northern Illinois is averaging 5.0 YPC and 229.5 YPG, ranking fourth nationally in that department. Jay Ducker leads the way with 1,038 yards, and that led to him being named the MAC Freshman of the Year. Clint Ratkovich has run for 12 scores this season.

Freshman Trayvon Rudolph is the leading receiver on Northern Illinois. He had a monster game in the loss to Kent State back in early November with 14 receptions for 309 yards and three touchdowns. The only other receivers to watch are Tyrice Richie and Cole Tucker.

Northern Illinois has not been good on defense. The Huskies rank outside the top 100 in scoring defense (34.3 PPG) and total defense (461.4 YPG). They are allowing 5.8 YPC, so the Chants could have a lot of success running the ball.

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers Betting Analysis

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

  • SU: 10-2
  • ATS: 5-6-1
  • O/U: 5-7

Grayson McCall has had a great season under center for Coastal Carolina. McCall is completing 73% of his passes for 12.1 YPA with 23 touchdowns and three interceptions. He missed a few games due to injury though, and he wasn’t at his best in the season finale for the Chants.

Coastal Carolina has one of the most dangerous offenses in the country thanks to a strong ground game. The Chanticleers are averaging 5.5 YPC and have run for 227.5 YPG this year. Shermari Jones is 12 yards away from 1,000 rushing yards this season, and both Braydon Bennett and Reese White have over 500 yards.

There are only three real targets in the passing game. Wide receiver Jaivon Heiligh and tight end Isaiah Likely were both First Team All-Sun Belt selections, and they will see a lot of looks from McCall.

The Chants have been solid on defense too. They rank in the top 20 in total defense and scoring defense, but they are allowing 5.2 yards per play and have benefited from a possession-based offense. Josaiah Stewart is the player to watch with 12.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.

Coastal Carolina has won four of its last six games. (AP)

Inside the Stats - Northern Illinois Huskies

  • Record: 9-4
  • VI Ranking: 76
  • Points Scored: 149
  • Points Allowed: 232
  • PS/G: 11.5 (110th)
  • PA/G: 17.8 (51st)

Inside the Stats - Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

  • Record: 10-2
  • VI Ranking: 39
  • Points Scored: 446
  • Points Allowed: 243
  • PS/G: 37.2 (7th)
  • PA/G: 20.2 (72nd)

Key Players to Watch

  • NIU: Rocky Lombardi - QB (180/310, 2,416 yards, 13 TD, 8 INT)
  • NIU: Trayvon Rudolph - WR (49 catches, 877 yards, 7 TD)
  • CC: Shermari Jones - RB (151 carries, 992 yards, 13 TD)
  • CC: Isaiah Likely - TE (52 catches, 816 yards, 10 TD)

Cure Bowl Betting Conclusion

Coastal Carolina is a deserved favorite here, but the Chants have had some issues with motivation this season. It’s been another great season for the program, and they won’t be fully focused on this game. That will allow Northern Illinois to stay within the number.

Cure Bowl Betting Trends

  • Northern Illinois has gone OVER the point total in four straight Bowl games.
  • Northern Illinois has failed to cover the spread in six straight Bowl games.
  • Coastal Carolina has won four of its last six games.