The Northern Illinois Huskies expected better than this, but falling in the MAC Championship shoved them out of the BCS-bowl discussion and into the Poinsettia Bowl. They will face the Utah State Aggies, winners of the MWC Mountain Division this season. NIU was slight 1.5-point favorite in early wagering.
The Aggies (Mountain West, 8-5 SU, 8-5 ATS, 6-7 OU) came up short in a 24-17 loss to Fresno State in the MWC Championship on December 7 as a 3-point road underdog. The Aggies covered in four of their last five games prior to this loss and the total has now stayed UNDER in their last four contests. They were 4-3 ATS in seven road games this year.
Poinsettia Bowl odds, matchup stats, trends and live odds updates
This offense churned out an average of 32.7 points a game behind a balanced attack that racked up 420.9 yards a game. Chuckie Keeton was lost for the season with a leg injury, so Darell Garretson took over the reins at quarterback and threw for 1,325 yards and nine touchdowns over the last seven games.
Joey DeMartino led the running game with 1,078 yards and 12 scores on 198 carries. Utah State's defense held teams to just 17.3 points a game, which was the seventh lowest total in the country.
Northern Illinois (Mid-American, 12-1 SU, 8-5 ATS, 8-5 OU) climbed to No. 14 in the BCS rankings while posting a perfect 12-0 SU mark in the regular season, but it got its doors blown off by Bowling Green, 47-27, in the MAC Championship as a three-point favorite.
The Huskies have now failed to cover in their last two games after going 5-0 ATS in their previous five outings. The total has gone OVER in four of their last six games.
Much of this team's success this season on offense can be attributed to a ground game that was ranked fifth in the nation in yards per game, with 312.5. Quarterback Jordan Lynch was at the center of it all, with 2,676 yards and 23 touchdowns passing to go along with a team-high 1,881 yards and 22 scores on the ground. Cameron Stingily ran for another 1,081 yards on 192 attempts.
The Huskies have been opened as slight 1.5-point favorites for this game with the total set at 57. Utah State is 8-4 ATS in its last 12 bowl games and the total has stayed UNDER in five of Northern Illinois' last six bowls.
The total has gone OVER in every other Poinsettia Bowl over the past eight seasons and another is due this year.
Computer Prediction: 42-41 Northern Illinois
Over-unders alternated past 8 seasons, an OVER is due
UNDER is 5-0-1 past 6 NIU bowl games
NIU 24-2 SU past 26 games overall
Utah State is 8-4 ATS past 12 games