History is on the line for Coastal Carolina heading into the 2021 Tailgreeter Cure Bowl betting preview. With a win the Chanticleers can claim the first bowl victory in school history – although to be fair they’ve only been an FBS team since 2017. A win over NIU would also secure CCU’s second straight 11-win season, which will have to start giving them national attention heading into 2022.
Northern Illinois wants this one too though, making their first appearance in a bowl game since a loss to UAB in the 2018 Boca Raton Bowl. NIU has actually lost six straight bowl games, and would love to cap off this renaissance year that followed a humiliating 0-6 slate last season. The Huskies have the talent to pull it off too.
NIU Not to Be Overlooked Here
Northern Illinois is a +11 point underdog in 2021 Tailgreeter Cure Bowl betting, but the Huskies are used to being overlooked. This is a team that wasn’t expected to do much this season after last year’s 0-6 record in the MAC-only schedule because of COVID, but went 6-2 in the MAC West and dominated Kent State 41-23 in the conference championship game to take home their first title since 2018.
Overall the Huskies were 9-4 this season, and they didn’t shy away from tough competition. NIU started the year with a win over ACC squad Georgia Tech, 22-21 on the road as +19 point underdogs. They then lost 50-43 against the always tough Wyoming Cowboys (+7) before taking their medicine 63-10 (+28.5) in Ann Arbor against a Michigan team heading to the CFP.
Playing some bigger programs earlier in the season has to have NIU prepped for Coastal Carolina coming out of the Sun Belt. Huskies QB Rocky Lombardi is a Michigan State transfer who has been thrown into the fire against some of the best competition in the nation his last three years in East Lansing. Lombardi found his stride mid-season with 348 yards vs. Central Michigan followed by 532 the next week in the first matchup with Kent State.
Lombardi wasn’t needed much in the MAC championship game (7-15, 102 yards) as RB Jay Ducker ran for 146 yards. NIU’s rushing attack of 234.3 ypg was the 5th highest mark in the regular season.
Is This the Year for CCU?
Coastal Carolina is heading into some familiar stomping grounds on Friday night as they played in last year’s Cure Bowl as well, ultimately falling 37-34 to Liberty in OT as -6.5 favorites. That was the only loss of the season for the Chanticleers, who had risen up to #12 in the country prior to that bowl game defeat.
Last year was no fluke for Coastal Carolina, whose resume included a 22-17 win over then #13 BYU and QB Zach Wilson who would go on to be the #2 player selected in the 2021 NFL draft. The Chanticleers don’t have that signature win this season though playing the 113th toughest schedule in the FBS.
Make no mistake, CCU has put up some solid numbers this season despite who they’ve played. The Chanticleers tally 492.3 yards/game which is the 7th most in the country and, like NIU, they thrive on the ground with three different RBs posting 500+ yards this season. QB Grayson McCall has 23 TDs this season to just 3 INTs so you’ve got to beat Coastal Carolina, they don’t beat themselves.
2021 Tailgreeter Cure Bowl Pick
Simply put, 11 points is too much for Coastal Carolina to be giving in this matchup. Sure they want their first bowl win in program history, but they were also 1-5 ATS the last six games of the regular season. That includes having to go to OT to beat South Alabama as -14.5 favorites last time out and squeaking by Georgia State 42-40 at home but as -13 point favorites in week 11.
Northern Illinois 34 – Coastal Carolina 31
Free Pick: Northern Illinois +11