Eastern Michigan has a half-decent offense, putting up 27.8 points per game, but they average just 4.6 PPG in the first quarter. Northern Illinois also gets out to slow starts on offense, averaging 5.7 PPG in the opening frame.
While these teams should be able to score some points, don't be surprised if they take a while to settle in. Bet the 1Q total Under.
PICK: First quarter Under 13 (-110)
FIRST HALF BET
We expect the first quarter to be a relatively low-scoring one, and if season trends are any indication the second quarter could go Eastern Michigan's way.
The second quarter is arguably the Huskies worst frame with an average scoring margin of minus-3.2 PPG. Not only does their offense struggle in that period, scoring just 5.9 PPG but their defense does as well, giving up 9.1 PPG.
These teams are fairly close in terms of talent and experience, and either team could go into halftime with the lead. Taking EMU however pays out much better at +150. Go where the value is.
PICK: Moneyline first half Eastern Michigan (+150)
While the Eagles offense might start slow, they have a tendency to play better as the game goes on. They average an impressive 15.6 PPG in the second-half against FBS foes.
Coming into this season Northern Illinois was expected to boast two of the best defensive players in the conference in linebackers Antonio Jones-Davis and Kyle Pugh. Unfortunately both players are done for the year, with Pugh suffering a shoulder injury at the end of September and Jones-Davis injuring his leg in Week 7.
Since beginning conference play in October, NIU has allowed at least 27 points in five of six games. The only contest where they held their opponent to fewer than 27 points was a shutout against Akron but considering that the Zips are dead-last in the country in scoring, don't put too much stock in that. Take Eastern Michigan's team total Over.
PICK: Team total - Eastern Michigan Over 25 (-110)
FULL GAME TOTAL
Oh what a difference a year can make. Led by All-American defensive end Sutton Smith the Huskies had one of the toughest defenses in the conference in 2018. This year however, they're giving up 29.9 PPG to FBS opponents and have mustered just 13 sacks all season - by comparison Smith had 15 sacks by himself last season.
The Eagles have an explosive passing game, throwing for 273.5 passing yards per game and 7.8 yards per attempt. It just so happens that NIU allows 7.8 yards per pass attempt and with their weak pass rush they'll have a hard time slowing down EMU quarterback Mike Glass.
The Huskies aren't the greatest team on offense but they have shown that they can move the ball, especially against poor defenses like Toledo, Ohio and Akron. They scored more than 30 points against each of those MAC opponents and should have similar success against a EMU stop-unit that gives up 445.1 yards per game. Take the Over.
PICK: Over 54
FULL GAME SIDE
Northern Illinois has the slightly better defense in this matchup, but Eastern Michigan is a tad more effective on the offensive side of the ball.
Since both teams reside in the MAC-West they've played many of the same opponents, with similar success. They both got slaughtered by Buffalo and Central Michigan, lost to Ball State, destroyed the worst team in the conference in Akron, and had close games on the road against Toledo (NIU winning on a last-second FG and EMU losing in overtime).
The Eagles have an average scoring margin of minus-4.4 PPG and the Huskies aren't far behind them with a scoring margin of minus-5.9 PPG. And just seven spots separate them in the FEI rating system with NIU ranking 98th in the country and Eastern Michigan 105th. There's not a whole lot separating these teams and even with NIU at home this line might be too large.
Keep in mind that even though NIU is 2-1 at home this year, their two victories came against 0-10 Akron and FCS program Illinois State. We're leaning towards the road dog and taking the points.
PICK: Eastern Michigan +5