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How and what to watch for Northern Illinois vs. Western Michigan

The Western Michigan Broncos will roll out their explosive passing game against the Northern Illinois Huskies’ stumbling defense.

Ball State Cardinals head coach Mike Neu looks on during the Mid American Conference college football game between the Northern Illinois Huskies and the Ball State Cardinals on November 18, 2020, at Scheumann Stadium in Muncie, Indiana. Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Northern Illinois Huskies continue to search for their first victory of the season as they take on the Western Michigan Broncos on Saturday.

Under second-year head coach Thomas Hammock, Northern Illinois has struggled to score or move the ball efficiently. Entering the week, the unit ranks 73rd nationally in success rate and 100th in explosiveness. Much of the blame falls on senior quarterback Ross Bowers who has produced only two touchdowns against two interceptions through three games, but running backs Harrison Waylee and Erin Collins (3.8 and 3.5 yards per carry, respectively) have struggled as well.

Conversely, Western Michigan has won its first three games, the program’s best start since P.J. Fleck last roamed the sidelines in Kalamazoo. Quarterback Kaleb Eleby has played neary flawless football in those contests, completing 44 of his 65 passes for 928 yards, 11 touchdowns, and just one pick. Most of that production has gone through D’Wayne Eskridge who has turned just 14 receptions into an astounding 457 yards and six touchdowns. Unsurprisingly, the Broncos’ passing game ranks ninth nationally in explosiveness.

Northern Illinois will not stand much of a chance if its defense continues to struggle against the pass. Entering the week, the unit ranks No. 95 in success rate against the pass, though it doesn’t give up many big plays (No. 15 against passing explosiveness).

Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming

You can watch Northern Illinois versus Western Michigan on Saturday, Nov. 28 at 12:00 p.m. ET on ESPN+, a subscription service available as an add-on from ESPN.

Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends

Point spread: Northern Illinois vs. Western Michigan (-20.5)
Point Total: 64.5
Money line: Northern Illinois (+600) vs. Western Michigan (-1000)

  • Northern Illinois has a 20-12-1 record against the spread on the road since 2015 (13-5-1 as the road underdog).
  • Over the same span, the Huskies also have a 17-16-0 over record on the road (7-12-0 as the road underdog).
  • Since the start of the 2015 season, Western Michigan owns a 17-14-0 record against the spread at home (15-11-0 as the home favorite).
  • Also during that stretch, the Broncos have an over record of 18-12-1 at home (14-11-1 as the home favorite).

The Best Bet

Western Michigan has scored over 50 points in two of its three games and 41 in its other outing. Northern Illinois doesn’t seem a likely candidate to figure out the Broncos offense, but it can probably produce enough points to cover the rest of the point total.

Pick: Over 64.5

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