Northern Illinois (5-3, 3-1) at Toledo (7-0, 4-0)
When: Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
Where: Glass Bowl, Toledo, OH
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: ESPN2
The Mid-American Conference West race heats up starting Tuesday night as the undefeated Toledo Rockets host Northern Illinois. Toledo is tied with Western Michigan at 4-0, with Central Michigan next at 4-1, and Northern Illinois at 3-1. The Rockets are the only ranked team in the MAC and have won 11 straight games overall dating back to last season. Their streak was almost broken last week against Massachusetts. The Rockets were down 28-10 at halftime before a furious second half rally. Quarterback Phillip Ely threw three interceptions in the first half, but caught fire in the second, throwing for five scores on the day. He now has 13 of his 15 touchdown passes in the last four games. Wide receiver Cody Thompson has 22 catches for 490 yards and four touchdowns, which have all come in the last three games, while Corey Jones leads the team with 39 receptions and Alonzo Russell had a season-best 96 receiving yards against UMASS. Terry Swanson leads the Rockets’ ground attack with 590 yards and five touchdowns, gaining at least 97 in four straight games. The Rockets have not allowed a sack this season in 253 passing attempts, joining Air Force as the only team in the nation to accomplish the feat.
Toledo will go up against an offense just as capable as them. Northern Illinois ranks 19th in the nation rushing for 217.5 yards a game. Joel Bouagnon leads that attack with 863 yards, 14 touchdowns, and a 5.1 average per rush. Bouagnon has run for over 100 yards in four straight games. The Huskies have a three-game winning streak going in which they have averaged 51 points a game. Junior quarterback Drew Hare has thrown for 1,817 yards with 13 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions this season. He had 18 and 2 last year. Hare has also rushed for 223 yards and a score this season. Northern Illinois has converted 29-of-31 red-zone possessions into points – eighth in the nation – with 25 touchdowns. The defense is led by sophomore Shawun Lurry, who is tied for first in the nation with seven interceptions. Northern Illinois is trying to get to their 6th straight MAC Championship Game, but if they don’t win tonight, they’ll have to pass that throne onto someone else.
Toledo showed a little vulnerability last week against Massachusetts. The Huskies offense is clicking right now and they still are the defending champions. Look for a back-and-forth shootout with Northern Illinois getting the cover.
Pick: Northern Illinois +8