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2015 MAC Championship: Hustle Belt picks Bowling Green to beat Northern Illinois

Most of our staff picks Bowling Green to win in Detroit, but not by a landslide.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Ricky Gerding

Bowling Green wins 48-36

NIU will be able to run the ball effectively in the first half and keep it close going into halftime. 20-16 BG at the break. Matty J throws a couple of quick TD's to start the half to break the game open and NIU won't have enough of a passing game to compensate. Johnson throws for 380 5 TD's 1 INT. Bouagnon runs for 85 yards in the first half and finishes with 135 and 2TD's

Matt Johnson will be crowned MVP of the MACCG for the second time and first since Dan LeFevour to win it twice.

James Jimenez

Bowling Green wins 35-28

I really hate to doubt Northern Illinois, as thstbfeeds directly into their underdog/everyone hates us narrative, but I have a very strong belief that BGSU just pulls a way with the win. NIU is too banged up, and BGSU is quite healthy at the moment. Also, using a recent common opponent as a measuring stick, BGSU had a better win against the Rockets than NIU. Even with a great defense, I think BGSU will have juuuuuusy enough juice to get by.

My MVP (though I would enjoy to see Gehrig Dieter, who has been in a MAJOR hot streak, but between you, me, and the fencepost, receivers almost never win these things) is Matt Johnson, because video game numbers are always attractive in such subjective matters like this.

Max DeVito

Bowing Green wins 42-21

What's gon' happen: Matty J will thrive during the second half after the game is 21-14 at the break in favor of BGSU. The Huskies will have to depend on the pass too much and Bowling Green escapes with a MAC title.

Player of the Game: Roger Lewis - 100+, 2 TD's

Dave Drury

Northern Illinois wins 38-35

I gotta have faith...NIU sneaks by. NIU rushes the ball effectively with Bouagnon and Huff and BG doesn't know how to handle our true freshman QB. Lurry picks Johnson twice, including on the final drive to seal it for the Huskies.

MVP: Bouagnon with 160 yds and 2 TDs.

Matt "Dizzle" Daley

Bowling Green wins 42-31

Teams that have had the most success against BGSU have run the ball early and often. I fully expect NIU to do this, especially with their quarterback situation. However, the key to this game is really the Huskies' defense. If their secondary can make plays and create a couple of turnovers, they'll have a great shot at the win. If not and BGSU gets ahead, it could be a very long night for NIU.

Player of the game: Matt Johnson

Tom McElgunn

IDK what Tommylee's status is. His ankles are always questionable. He is the difference maker in this game.

With Tommylee: NIU 40 - BGSU 30
Tommylee MVP

Without Tommylee: BGSU 34 - NIU 26
MattyJHeisman MVP

The Chuck

Northern Illinois wins 35-21

NIU pounds away on the ground and takes advantage of rare miscues from Matt Johnson. Bowling Green suddenly finds itself in a hole so deep it can't dig itself out.

POTG: Bouagnon, with 150+ and 3 TDs.

Kaleb Carter

Bowling Green wins 45-17

NIU actually showed some vulnerability in the run game against Ohio. I think you'll all be surprised when the Falcons come out and gut the Huskies on the ground through Travis Greene and Fred Coppet at the start and then start hitting NIU over the top. I just can't see Tommy Fielder leading the way and I see BG dialing up the blitzes early and often to overwhelm the frosh, who actually put together an impressive drive to end the game against Ohio.
POTG-Travis Greene runs for over 200 yards and runs in four scores (three of them in the first half) of BG's dominant win to take the MAC championship.


Jesse Allen

Bowling Green wins 45-38

We get the #MACtion-iest final game of a season full of #MACtion. The biggest highlight of the game, and the moment getting the loudest crowd pop, is the unexpected farewell montage for the UMass Minutemen at halftime. There are cheers, tears, and well wishes as the Minutemen gracefully leave the MAC.

Randy Carpenter

Bowling Green wins 48-32

I actually think the Babers leaving rumors will bring this team together and help it focus.

MVP: Matt Johnson

Nick Fries

Bowling Green wins 36-27

I think NIU has too many questions surrounding their team right now, and BGSU has too many things going right for them right now. Matt Johnson, Roger Lewis, and Gehrig Dieter are going to keep doing what they do, putting up crazy numbers. The Huskie secondary scared me last week against Ohio, and the NIU offense hasn't done enough in recent weeks to show me they can keep up with the Falcons.

Roger Lewis will be the player of the game because it's about time we give the receivers some credit. With all the weapons at MattyJ's disposal, Lewis is by far the most explosive, and after being snubbed from the Belitnikoff award finalist list, he will have something to prove in this championship game. I'm predicting at least two touchdown catches.

Jordan Rinard

Bowling Green wins 42-21

Despite THAT STOUT NIU DEFENSE, Matt Johnson and company should have their way against a Huskie defense that has allowed over 400+ yards per game this season. This game will come down to whether Northern Illinois can match Bowling Green point for point and I don't see that happening; too much talent on the other sideline. The "outside noise" this week will either be a non-factor or will galvanize BG to play harder for Babers; it won't negatively affect the team at all this week.

With all the attention on the Falcon passing game, Travis Greene could be poised for an MVP performance with a run defense that allows 155 yards per game while BG may try to avoid attacking an NIU team that leads the MAC with 19 interceptions on the year.

Brandon Fitzsimons

Northern Illinois wins 31-28

Never doubt NIU. That's what we know. Since the Huskies have 10 days to prep their true freshman QB for this BG defense, I think Carey builds a gameplan that gets it done. The Huskie defense is stout, and they'll be itching to repeat as champs. Johnson comes out strong, but fades down the stretch as NIU settles in. Golladay with the game winning TD catch with under a minute to play and we bemoan why NIU can't go to the Big 12 to allow everyone else a chance.

MVP: Joel Bouagnon

Justin Coffin

Northern Illinois wins 37-31

I see some overtime in this one. Huskies look like they'll be double digit dogs to a team that was throttled at home by a Toledo team it beat on the road. That seems like plenty of motivation for Carey and company.

I'm not sure the Falcons have an answer for Joel Bouagnon, so it doesn't matter who's under center for the Huskies. I think the defense is good enough and NIU pulls it off in a thriller.

POTG: Joel Bouagnon

Ben Roush

Bowling Green wins 35-24

It's tough to pick any team that backs into a championship game. NIU's defense isn't quite good enough for an indoor Matt Johnson. Greene is a more-than-solid rusher obviously, so NIU won't be able to contain both the pass and the rush.

POTG: Matt Johnson

Sam Barloga

Northern Illinois wins 45-27

Remember when the Huskies stormed into the Glass Bowl, and pulled off an upset that few of us saw coming? Like I said afterwards, there was never a reason to doubt Northern Illinois. The players have played in these situations, and the coaching staff is plenty prepared for big games. NIU rolls in Detroit.

POTG: Joel Bouagnon

Rob Willer

Northern Illinois wins 42-38

NIU wins in a thriller as the freshman QB comes to play and benefits on a few possessions with a short field due to BG turnovers. The player of the game Joel Bouganon with 180 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. Coach Carey solidifies MAC dominance and may be on the move but seems likely next year.

Chris Manning

Bowling Green wins 49-27

Like just about everyone in the MAC, the Huskies won't be able to stop Bowling Green and with their noted health issues at quarterback, NIU won't be able to keep up on offense. Behind Matt Johnson and company, the Falcons score early and often in what might be Dino Babers' last game.

Matt Johnson will be the payer of the game. He's the leader of BG's offense and that won't change at all against NIU. As he goes, so go the Falcons.

Alex Alvarado

Northern Illinois wins 38-33

Defense, defense, defense. You probably wouldn't have realized it unless somebody told you, but Bowling Green actually allows only three points more per game than the Huskies have this season, allowing 30 more yards per game too. If the two teams were able to flip-flop each others' schedules, we'd probably see wider margins in those categories.

I know that Matt Johnson is unbelievable, I didn't know who Tommy Fiedler was before the season started, let alone before November rolled around. While I try to sway away from the mantra of "never ever doubt NIU", you can't ignore the coaching and preparation that Rod Carey and his staff is able to do for his teams. Fiedler doesn't have to play great, he just has to have great moments. You don't eat an entire steak in one bite, you cut it up into pieces, you smear it in that A1 sauce, you take a cubicle and chew and chew and chew on it until you're done and ready for the next piece. It won't be pretty, which is why you always order your steak to still be bloody. The one thing you don't want is to eat a cold steak, because playing from behind just isn't an ideal situation.

Boomer Mays for MVP.