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Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois: Picks, best bets for Camellia Bowl in Montgomery

The Red Wolves and Huskies will duke it out in Montgomery this afternoon. Arkansas State enters as a slight favorite.

Northern Illinois v Kentucky Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The 2023 Camellia Bowl will take place this afternoon as the Arkansas State Red Wolves will duke it out with the Northern Illinois Huskies at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, AL. This game will kick off at noon ET and will air on ESPN.

Arkansas State (6-6, 4-4 Sun Belt) had an atrocious start to the regular season, but fought its way through the Sun Belt to reach bowl eligibility. Offensively, quarterback Jaylen Raynor earned Sun Belt Freshman of the Year honors, throwing for 2,300 yards with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also added an additional five scores on the ground. On the defensive front, Nate Martey and Keyron Crawford combined for 11.5 sacks during the campaign.

Northern Illinois (6-6, 5-3 MAC) was able to win its final two games of the regular season to reach bowl eligibility, a nice bounce back after a down 3-9 campaign in 2022. Running back Antario Brown was the engine of the offense, earning First Team All-MAC honors by breaking off 1,164 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. On defense, cornerback Javaughn Byrd did an effective job patrolling the secondary, ending the year with 28 tackles, five passes defensed, and two interceptions.

SP+ Rankings

Arkansas State: 93 overall, 72 offense, 108 defense
Northern Illinois: 85 overall, 109 offense, 47 defense

List of injuries and players opting out of game

Arkansas State

QB Christian Hunt - Out (Transfer Portal)
RB Mike Sharpe - Out (Transfer Portal)
RB Zak Wallace - Probable (Tailbone)

Northern Illinois

RB Kendrell Flowers – Out (Transfer Portal)
TE Bryce Harrison – Out (Transfer Portal)
WR Trey Urwiler – Out (Transfer Portal)
WR Kacper Rutkiewicz - Questionable (Undisclosed)
WR Davis Patterson - Questionable (Undisclosed)

ATS/Total

Against The Spread in 2023

Arkansas State: 7-5 ATS
Northern Illinois: 5-7 ATS

Total in 2023

Arkansas State: Over 6-6
Northern Illinois: Over 6-6

Team Pace

Arkansas State: 2.40 plays per minute of offense
Northern Illinois: 2.06 plays per minute of offense

Odds at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Arkansas State -3
Total: 54.5
Moneyline: Arkansas State -148, Northern Illinois +124

Opening line: Arkansas State -1.5
Opening total: 51.5

Weather

69 degrees, cloudy, 6 MPH winds ESE

Our Best Bet for the Camellia Bowl

Under 54.5

Both offenses move at relatively slow paces, so we could be in for a handful of lengthy drives in this one. I don’t expect this bowl to be the biggest of offensive showings, so I’ll lean towards the under cashing here.