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MAC Championship Game Preview and Prediction: Bowling Green vs. Northern Illinois

Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson

Championship weekend gets underway with the MAC serving up a delicious appetizer. Bowling Green and Northern Illinois collide in the MAC Championship Game at Ford Field in Detroit on Friday and although there may not be a spot in the New Year's Six awaiting the winner, there should still be plenty of offensive fireworks to witness. 

Bowling Green vs. Northern Illinois (Detroit)

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Friday)


Spread: Bowling Green -12

Three Things to Watch

1. Here we go again!

For the third straight season, Bowling Green and Northern Illinois will do battle for the MAC championship. Bowling Green upset the Huskies and took them out of the BCS-busting mix two seasons ago with a 47-27 blowout victory. Northern Illinois struck back last season with a blowout of its own, as the Huskies demolished the Falcons 51-17 to win their third MAC championship in four years.

2. Matt Johnson's redemption

Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson saw his 2014 season come to an end after just one game, but he has more than made up for it this season by living up to expectations in a resounding way. Johnson has passed for a MAC-leading 4,465 yards and 41 touchdowns with just six interceptions. Johnson will be put to the test this weekend, because Northern Illinois leads the MAC with 19 interceptions.

3. Last call for Dino Babers?

As the coaching carousel continues to spin, Bowling Green head coach Dino Babers continues to be a popular name to track. It was thought he would be heading to UCF, but that position has been filled by Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost. Still, Babers likely will remain in the rumor mill discussion until he either moves to a new program or all vacancies are filled. A win in the MAC Championship Game could be the final game for Babers in Bowling Green

Final Analysis

Northern Illinois hit a hot streak during the regular season to grab the MAC West Division away from favorite Toledo along the way. But the Huskies stumbled in the regular season finale on the road against Ohio, when a win would have guaranteed and clinched the division. Instead, Northern Illinois had to wait to see Western Michigan take down Toledo to secure the MAC West. Bowling Green has been steamrolling through the season after a 1-2 start to the year. With Bowling Green's offense locked in, the Falcons should be able to capture their second MAC championship in three years.

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Prediction: Bowling Green 42, Northern Illinois 33

— 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 writes for and hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.