Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Buffalo Bulls Prediction & Game Preview -- 11/17/2021

by Chuck Sommers

Game time: 7 p.m. ET
Venue: UB Stadium, Buffalo, NY
Where to watch: ESPN2

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: Northern Illinois -1.5
BetMGM: Northern Illinois -1.5
Caesars: Northern Illinois -1.5

Season record
Northern Illinois: 7-3 (5-1 MAC) 
Buffalo: 4-6 (2-4 MAC)

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Northern Illinois - Buffalo preview and analysis


Last week
Northern Illinois: won 30-29 vs. Ball State
Buffalo: lost 45-18 at Miami-Ohio

And by the skin of their teeth, the Northern Illinois Huskies keep their conference championship hopes alive.

By the skin of their teeth, I mean like the skin was hanging off for the final three minutes until a last-second field goal.

The Huskies can clinch a spot in the MAC Championship game with a win on Wednesday against the Buffalo Bulls 

It’s not often you see a game have three lead changes in the final two minutes, but NIU had to survive by way of quick strikes from the Ball State Cardinals. The Huskies went 14 plays and 69 yards over a span of 7:22. Jay Ducker capped it off with a 10-yard touchdown run to give NIU a 27-26 lead.

Ball State answered by going 34 yards in six plays with Jacob Lewis hitting a 48-yard field goal a minute later to give the Cardinals a lead. But Northern Illinois, the methodical group it is, went 10 plays and 62 yards in the final 1:42 with John Richardson nailing a 32-yard field goal as time expired to move to 5-1 in conference play.

Quarterback Rocky Lombardi went 23 for 38 for 264 yards and a touchdown, but also threw an interception in one of his more blase performances this season. But Ducker was the star and hero with 155 yards and that aforementioned touchdown. Lombardi has been the anchor for most of the season, but Ducker has had his moments that remind folks that this is an offense that should be reckoned with in a conference title game or bowl game.

But as college football winds down in the winds of November, once has to wonder if the Buffalo offense will even be a threat to the Northern Illinois defense this week. The Bulls are coming off a 27-point loss to the Miami-Ohio RedHawks, where quarterback Kyle Vantrease threw for only 151 yards and an interception.

The running game of Buffalo was also a problem with just 119 yards on 38 carries and just one touchdown. Buffalo’s defense wasn’t any better; Brett Gabbert torched the Buffalo secondary for 351 yards and four touchdowns to essentially control the entire destiny for the MAC East in favor of Miami-Ohio.

Prediction


It sort of comes as a shock that Buffalo is a slight underdog in this one. If there’s any hope for Buffalo, the game is not in Dekalb and NIU’s defense hasn’t been any better. But knowing there’s a spot in the MAC title game on the line, I don’t see Northern Illinois laying an egg in that fashion. The favorites get the win and punch their ticket. Northern Illinois by 7

Betting trends


Northern Illinois is 85-53 ATS on the road dating back to 1992.

Northern Illinois is 0-3 ATS this season following a win by 3 points.

Buffalo is 10-3 ATS at home over the past three seasons but just 2-2 this season.

Statistical leaders


Northern Illinois:
Passing: Rocky Lombardi -- 2,117 yards, 13 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Jay Ducker -- 734 yards, 3 TD
Receiving: Trayvon Rudolph -- 747 yards, 7 TD
Defense: CJ Brown -- 67 tackles

Buffalo:
Passing: Kyle Vantrease -- 1,861 yards, 8 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Dylan McDuffie -- 857 yards, 10 TD
Receiving: Quian Williams -- 788 yards, 2 TD
Defense: Daymond Williams -- 5.5 sacks

Don't miss our champion handicappers' free picks and expert football picks today. And if you enjoyed this Northern Illinois - Buffalo prediction, be sure to drop by every day for our daily NCAA projections and previews.

Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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