Arkansas State turned its season around after handing the ball to true freshman Jaylen Raynor.
The Red Wolves are bowl-eligible for the first time since 2019 when it was in the Camellia Bowl. The team will look for a similar result as that matchup when it beat FIU, this time taking on MAC foe, Northern Illinois. The Huskies have a veteran offense but will likely be without its most talented skill-position player Trayvon Rudolph.
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Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois Odds, Spread and Total
Northern Illinois vs. Arkansas State Betting Trends
- Arkansas State is 7-5 against the spread (ATS) this season
- Northern Illinois is 5-7 ATS this season
- Northern Illinois has been a PK or underdog four times this season, covering in all but one instance
- Arkansas State's Butch Jones is 6-1-1 ATS in bowl games
Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois How to Watch
- Date: Saturday, December 23rd
- Game Time: 12:00 PM EST
- Venue: Cramton Bowl
- How to Watch (TV): ESPN
- Arkansas State Record: 6-6
- Northern Illinois Record: 6-6
Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois Key Players to Watch
Jaylon Raynor: After a dismal start to the season, Arkansas State turned to Rayon in Week 4 and never looked back, finishing the season 5-3 with the true freshman under center. Raynor passed for more than 250 yards in four of those games and compiled 20 total touchdowns to six interceptions.
Antario Brown: The NIU passing game was hit-or-miss at times, but Brown was the key cog at running back. The junior rushed for over six yards per carry and had 11 total touchdowns. He draws a favorable matchup against Arkansas State's defense that is outside the top 100 in EPA/Rush.
Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois Prediction and Pick
The big-name not likely to play in this one due to the evolving transfer portal will be Northern Illinois wide receiver Trayvon Rudolph. Rudolph is the only player on Northern Illinois with more than 22 catches on the year as well as the only player to have more than 300 receiving yards.
While NIU may keep this game on the ground with Brown and turn this into a grinding affair, the lack of threat in the passing game will make things easier for the Red Wolves' typically poor defense.
This is certainly a matchup of contrasting styles as the Huskies check-in outside the top 100 in terms of plays per minute while Arkansas State is top 15 in that same metric. With the dual-threat Raynor under center, Arkansas State has been a big play threat at all times. The team is top 35 in the country in both explosive pass and run rate, but the team struggles to string together consistent plays, 100th in success rate.
Meanwhile, the Northern Illinois defense is well equipped to slow down big plays, 45th in explosive rush defense and 13th in explosive pass defense on the year. The team doesn't get a ton of pressure but is overall a standout unit, 25th in yards per play allowed at about five.
Given the NIU offense is going to struggle to move the ball in chunks, but the defense can dictate the terms against a volatile Arkansas State offense, I believe the under is the best look in the Camellia Bowl.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.
Track Reed's bets here!