Now that November is upon us, the MAC is ready to kick start your Tuesday night college football viewing with a matchup that probably looked to be the game of the year when the schedule was originally set. Bowling Green and Northern Illinois are a far cry from where they have been in recent years, but they will be the two kicking off the November MACtion slate on Tuesday night in DeKalb.
Somebody has to win this one, right?
Bowling Green at Northern Illinois
Kickoff: Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPNU
Spread: Northern Illinois -16.0
Three Things to Watch
1. NIU fighting to stay alive for postseason
Bowling Green has already been eliminated from possible postseason contention this season, and Northern Illinois is on the brink of suffering a similar fate. One more loss will drop the Huskies from being able to become eligible for a postseason bowl berth. This is a surprising fact because Bowling Green and NIU have faced each other in each of the last three MAC Championship Games as their respective division champions. NIU has reached the conference title game six straight years, although that is guaranteed not to happen this season (say hello to Western Michigan... or Toledo).
2. NIU’s Anthony Maddie coming off five-TD performance
It has been a rough season for NIU’s offense, to say the least. Last week against Buffalo, however, the Huskies were able to enjoy a splendid offensive performance by Maddie. The senior quarterback rushed for 125 yards and four touchdowns and added a touchdown pass for a five-touchdown game. It was a much-needed spark for the Huskies.
3. Two of the MAC’s best wide receivers should rack up some big numbers
Entering the week, NIU’s Kenny Golladay (821 yards, 7 touchdowns) and Bowling Green’s Scott Miller (798, 9) were among the MAC leaders in receiving yards per game. Golladay is one of two receivers in the conference to average more than 100 yards per game (102.6; Toledo’s Cody Thompson leads the MAC with 114.6 ypg), and Miller is right behind at 99.8. Both should have a chance to put together a solid performance in the box score. NIU is tied for 104th in the FBS in passing defense, while Bowling Green sits even lower (No. 117). Combined these two teams have given up 4,422 yards and 44 touchdowns passes in 16 games. That’s an average of 276 passing yards and nearly three TDs per game.
Tuesday night’s matchup of former MAC juggernauts will be anything but pretty. It will be something only the most hardcore of college football, or betting, junkies will have much reason to tune in to see without any real rooting interest. Northern Illinois has won two of its last four to seemingly start to turn a corner, if you choose to spin this optimistically, and the Huskies are at home. Maybe that means something, but on a Tuesday night in a game between two teams with a combined total of three wins, there may not be much of an advantage to be gained one way or the other. We’re not breaking down the Indians and Cubs here, folks. If you tune in, expect to see NIU to have a slight edge on offense in what should be one of the uglier games of the year to appear on national television. It might be so ugly, it will actually turn interesting in the fourth quarter. That’s just how the MAC operates sometimes.
Prediction: Northern Illinois 43, Bowling Green 32
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter@KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.
(Top photo courtesy of Brad Phalin/BGSU Office of Marketing & Communications)