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Northern Illinois vs. Central Michigan: Expert Pick and Prediction – October 31, 2023

Northern Illinois vs. Central Michigan Expert Pick and Prediction – October 31, 2023

NORTHERN ILLINOIS VS. CENTRAL MICHIGAN EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – October 31, 2023 — Welcome to Halloween MACtion. The last time we saw this matchup in Mount Pleasant, it proved one of the best games of the year, as well as a Northern Illinois springboard to the MAC championship. But if not for one mistake, it easily could have been the Chippewas making the trip to Detroit for the league title.

In 2021, Central Michigan dropped the snap on a game-winning field goal try, leaving it a point short of NIU. The Chippewas sunk to 4-8 last season, and they’re in a tight spot as MACtion begins. They’ve got to find two wins out of four, and they’re facing three of the five best team the MAC has to offer. If they lose here, they’ll either have to win at Ohio or upset league kingpin Toledo.

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The Huskies, on the other hand, have to like their position. Thomas Hammock’s group also needs two wins for a bowl, but it has a much more favorable slate. Out of NIU’s final four opponents, CMU is the only one who isn’t below .500. Plus, Northern Illinois seems to have discovered a defense. Toledo’s the only non-Power 5 team to top 22 points against the Huskies, and the offense is experienced enough to score with anyone.

There’s even a slight possibility the Huskies could find their way back to the MAC title game, although that would require a lot of help on the part of Toledo’s opponents. More likely, the Huskies are playing for a bowl game and an extension for their coach.

The Odds

Matchup Open Spread Points Moneyline
Northern Illinois

(4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS)

-3 -5.5 O45.5 -218
Central Michigan 

(4-4 SU, 2-6 ATS) 

U45.5 +5.5 U45.5 +180


When: Tuesday, October 31st at 7 p.m. EDT

Where: Kelly/Shorts Stadium, Mount Pleasant, Mich.


Public Bets: 97% on Northern Illinois

Public Money: 99% on Northern Illinois

Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of October 30th, 2023.

Northern Illinois vs. Central Michigan In-Season Trends

Playing in Mount Pleasant hadn’t been a fun experience for the Huskies, but they did snap a three-game losing streak at Kelly/Shorts Stadium last time here. They’ve also done a fine job of handling games against MAC opponents on the spread, covering in three of four league games this season.

If you’re a Central Michigan fan, the Chippewas have done their best work at home, going 3-0 in Mount Pleasant this year. If you’re a Central Michigan bettor, the Chips have been garbage at home, going 0-3 ATS in Mount Pleasant.

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Central Michigan also hasn’t covered a MAC game all season. The closest it came was 17-10 at home over Akron when giving 10.5 — and Northern Illinois played that Akron team away and beat the Zips 55-14.


This will be fun. Light snow is in the forecast for the afternoon, which means about 1 to 2 inches of powder could enter the equation. That could affect the passing game, depending on if the teams change their strategy.

The Difference-Makers

Northern Illinois quarterback Rocky Lombardi is 12-2 against MAC opponents as the Huskies’ quarterback. (Photo by Danny Karnik/AP)

If it seems like Rocky Lombardi has been in college forever, that’s because he practically has. The sixth-year starting quarterback spent his first three years at Michigan State, then transferred to Northern Illinois to use his COVID year, his senior year and an extra year thanks to injuries.

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When he’s been on the field, the Huskies have been tough to beat. Lombardi’s 12-2 against MAC opponents as the NIU starter, only losing to Kent State in 2021 and Toledo this year.

Central Michigan is asking Jase Bauer to do too much. The ground game for the Chippewas has ground to a halt as of late, so Bauer’s had to put the team on his back as of late. So far, it’s not working; CMU has failed to break 300 yards of offense in back-to-back weeks.

The Pick

Remember the name Trayvon Rudolph. Two years ago, Rudolph made this game his coming-out party with 160 receiving yards and a 75-yard touchdown catch that ignited the Huskies’ comeback for a 39-38 win.

Rudolph has shown signs of getting back to his old self (he tore an ACL last season and missed the entire year), and Central Michigan’s pass defense ranks second-worst in the MAC. With the Chippewas sinking against league competition and the Huskies competitive against good teams, this spread seems a little generous.

Dan’s Picks  

 Northern Illinois -5.5   

 Over 45.5  

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