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2010 Humanitarian Bowl: Huskies vs. Bulldogs Predictions

Humanitarian Bowl: Northern Illinois vs Fresno State Bowl Preview

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Bowl season begins Saturday, and fans get a great match up on Humanitarian Bowl odds between the Northern Illinois Huskies and Fresno State Bulldogs.

Huskies vs Bulldogs Handicapping Preview
Date: Saturday, December 18, 5:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho
Broadcast: ESPN
Huskies vs. Bulldogs lines from Bodog.com
Line: Huskies: -1, Bulldogs: +1
Total: 59
Bet Now @ Bodog.com


Fresno State (8-4, 5-6 ATS) closed out its season with a 25-23 win over Illinois, giving the Bulldogs back-to-back victories. The win also snapped a two-game losing streak against the spread.

The Bulldogs might have a bit of home-field advantage. They play in the same conference as Boise State, and the hometown crowd has cheered on Fresno State in previous bowl games.

The two-week break between games should greatly benefit the Bulldogs offense. Running back Robbie Rouse strung together four straight 100-yard games earlier this season—including a pair of 200-yard efforts—but was slowed by hand and rib injuries. Rouse will take pressure off the passing game, which is led by senior quarterback Ryan Colburn. Colburn is efficient under center; he threw 21 touchdowns and just nine picks during the regular season.

Defensively, Fresno State is a menace to opposing quarterbacks; it racked up 37 sacks this year, good for sixth in the country. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs can’t stop the run. They allowed opponents to rush for at least 200 yards five times this season, including 300 and 400-yard efforts.

Northern Illinois (10-3, 9-2-1 ATS) had its eight-game winning streak come crashing to a halt in the final game of the year, as the Huskies lost 26-21 to Miami (Ohio) in the MAC title game. It was an embarrassing loss, as the Huskies were favored by 19 points. Things got worse after that. Hours after accepting a bid in the Humanitarian Bowl, head coach Jerry Kill left the program for Minnesota; he won’t coach on Saturday.

The Huskies are brilliant at running the ball. Chad Spann (1256 rush yards, 20 touchdowns) led an attack that averaged nearly 265 rush yards per game this season. Six different Huskies racked up at least 200 yards on the ground this year. That opened up plenty of room for Chandler Harnish to operate; the quarterback, starting in his third straight bowl game, there for 20 touchdowns and just five picks this season. He won’t rack up a ton of yards, but he’ll make a few big plays.

Northern Illinois boasted a pretty solid defense this year—10 points better per game than Fresno State, in fact—but it was pushed around a little bit in the MAC championship game. The Huskies are dept at stopping both run and pass, though, and they come up with plenty of big plays (16 interceptions).

Getting the Huskies as a one-point favorite is a steal. They have a better offense (37 points per game to 30) and better defense (19 points per game to 29). The departure of Kill is disappointing, but the surprising loss in the MAC title game will give the players plenty of motivation to close out 2010 with a bang.

Gambling Trends:

Northern Illinois is 9-1 SU in its last 10 games
Northern Illinois is 9-1-1 ATS in its last 11 games
Fresno State is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games

Take the Huskies in the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl.

Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State pick: Huskies -1



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