Boca Raton Bowl Spread: UAB vs. Northern Illinois Prediction

Andrew Rogers | Updated Dec 16, 2018

sutton smith

Sutton Smith has been the heartbeat of the Northern Illinois defence, racking up 15 sacks – tied for the NCAA lead – and a whopping 24.5 tackles for loss.

December 18, 2018, 7:00 PM ET
FAU Football Stadium
Pointspread -1.5 -110
Moneyline -125
Over / Under o +41.5


Betting Action


Pointspread +1.5 -110
Moneyline +105
Over / Under u +41.5


Betting Action


The UAB Blazers and Northern Illinois Huskies advanced to bowl season on the strength of nationally elite pass rushes – and those sack-happy units will go toe-to-toe Tuesday night in Florida as they face off in the Boca Raton Bowl. UAB put together an impressive 10-win season and knocked off Middle Tennessee 27-25 to secure the Conference USA title. Northern Illinois secured the MAC championship with a 30-29 triumph over Buffalo.

Boca Raton Bowl Betting Analysis

The Huskies are favoured by less than a field goal in a matchup between two of the country’s most vaunted defences. UAB allowed the 11th-fewest yards per game in the nation (300.2), while Northern Illinois wasn’t far behind in 31st (347.8). But while the Blazers were a terrific cover option – going 8-3 ATS in their final 11 games – the Huskies have covered just five of their previous 18 games on grass and are 0-5 ATS in their last five bowl appearances.

The game carries a total of 42.5 – one of the lowest of bowl season – and both teams carry conflicting totals trends that make this one a bit of a head-scratcher. UAB has gone above the number in four of its previous five games overall, but is 7-2 to the under in its past nine vs. teams with winning records. Northern Illinois has gone below the number in nine of 13 but has exceeded the total in five of its previous seven neutral-site contests.

UAB Blazers

The Blazers come into this one ranked tied for third in the country in total team sacks (43) and fourth in sacks per game (3.31). Senior defensive lineman Jamell Garcia-Williams paces UAB with 15.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks, while linebacker Tre’ Crawford has added 12 TFLs and eight sacks. But the quarterback tandem of A.J. Erdely and Tyler Johnston III represents one of the team’s major weak spots, combining for 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

Northern Illinois Huskies

The Huskies made life downright miserable for opposing quarterbacks and offensive lines in 2018, leading all of Division I in total sacks (50), sack yardage lost (323) and average sacks per game (3.85). Sutton Smith has been the heartbeat of the Northern Illinois defence, racking up 15 sacks – tied for the NCAA lead – and a whopping 24.5 tackles for loss. That pass rush excellence masked an offence that produced the eighth-fewest yards per game (325.0).

Blazers vs. Huskies Prediction