Kent State (0-4) at Northern Illinois (3-1) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Huskie Stadium (23,595) — DeKalb, Illinois. Television: Home Record: Kent State 0-2, Northern Illinois 1-0. Away Record:
Kent State 0-2, Northern Illinois 2-1. Neutral Record: Kent State 0-0,
Northern Illinois 0-0. Conference Record: Kent State 0-1, Northern Illinois
0-0. Series Record: Northern Illinois leads, 18-7.

GAME NOTES: The Kent State Golden Flashes dropped their fourth straight game
to open the 2014 season, and will have to hit the road for the third
consecutive week in search of their first win, this time to face the Northern
Illinois Huskies at Huskie Stadium in an Mid-American Conference bout.

The Golden Flashes dropped their season-opening game on a last-second field
goal to conference and in-state rival Ohio, and have since been stagnant in
one-sided losses to South Alabama, Ohio State and Virginia. In the last three
games, Kent State has scored a combined 26 points.

Northern Illinois, which was undefeated for nearly the entire season in 2013,
dropped its latest contest two weeks ago to SEC foe Arkansas, 52-14. Still,
the Huskies were been able to defeat Presbyterian, Northwestern and UNLV prior
to the team’s loss and subsequent bye week.

The all-time series between these two conference rivals has been pretty one-
sided, favoring Northern Illinois, 18-7. The two programs have met each of the
last three years, with the Huskies coming away victorious in each of the
clashes. The last time Kent State defeated NIU was back in the 2001 season in

Unlike Kent State’s game two weeks ago against Ohio State, the Golden Flashes
actually saw a bit of hope early against ACC contender Virginia last weekend.
Kent State led UVA after the first quarter, 10-7, and only trailed by four,
14-10, going into halftime. But the Cavaliers turned on the jets in the second
half, blowing Kent State out for the 45-13 victory. Quarterback Colin Reardon
showed flashes of playmaking ability, but ultimately succumbed to the pressure
of a better team and ended up throwing three interceptions.

The running game for the Golden Flashes was abysmal, much the way it has been
the whole season. Nick Holley led five players that recorded carries with 36
yards on 14 carries. As a unit, the offense totaled 34 net yards in the loss
to Virginia, and has only managed 44 rushing ypg through four contests, and
has failed to reach the end zone once.

Reardon has been the only promising force on Kent State’s offensive unit. The
Golden Flashes enter this weekend’s match with NIU averaging 200.5 passing
ypg. Reardon has tossed five touchdowns, but can’t seem to control the
turnovers with seven interceptions. The team’s leading receiver is tight end
Casey Pierce, who has 14 catches for 180 yards and a touchdown.

With an offense so stagnant and seemingly incapable of scoring, the defense
has had to work overtime to try and limit opponents, with unsuccessful
results. Kent State is averaging 37.8 ppg surrendered and is giving up 483
total offensive ypg through four contests. In the past two losses, the Golden
Flashes have been outscored 111-13.

Safety Nate Holley is far and away the team’s leader on the defensive side of
the ball, having registered 56 tackles already with a pass breakup, two forced
fumbles and a fumble recovery. The next closest tackler is Matt Dellinger, who
has 33 stops. In four games, the Golden Flashes have notched two sacks and 13
tackles for loss, allowing opposing offenses plenty of time to pick them

After three straight games of outlasting their competition offensively, the
Huskies were finally cut down to size by Arkansas two weekends ago. It was an
overall average performance for quarterback Drew Hare, who completed 18-of-29
pass attempts for 179 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Northern Illinois this
season has been more reliant on the run, and will head into Saturday’s contest
averaging 214 passing ypg.

The rushing attack is, and has been for some time, the focal point of the
offense. This season (without run-first quarterback Jordan Lynch), the Huskies
are netting 274.8 rushing ypg, and have scored nine times on the ground
through the first four weeks. Akeem Daniels has a team-high 202 rushing yards,
but Joel Bouagnon has carried an NIU-best 44 times and has four touchdowns on
the ground.

As a unit, Northern Illinois is averaging 35 ppg and a blistering 488.8 total
ypg. Hare has proven to be a steady leader under center, having thrown for 673
yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions. Four of those touchdown tosses
have gone to top receiver Da’Ron Brown, who has 24 receptions for 386 yards
(all team highs).

The Huskies seemed like a stifling team defensively through the first two
weeks, holding Presbyterian and Northwestern to a combined 18 points. But the
two most recent games for NIU have seen the Huskies allow 34 and 52 points to
UNLV and Arkansas, respectively. In total, Northern Illinois is surrendering
26 ppg and 361.8 offensive ypg this season.

The Huskies gave up 212 rushing yards and three ground scores to the
Razorbacks two weeks ago, so the emphasis for coach Road Carey should be on
improving the run game. This matchup against Kent State will be perfect to
test any new ideas or concepts, since the Golden Flashes are terrible coming
out of the backfield. Marlon Moore leads NIU with 32 tackles this season, and
has an interception and two forced fumbles. Defensive end Jason Meehan, who
leads Northern Illinois with four sacks, will be licking his chops to take the
field against a Kent State team that has surrendered 13 sacks to opponents
through four games.

No matter which way you look at it, Kent State is overmatched this weekend.
Northern Illinois not only has the homefield advantage, but can dominate in
the run game and perform steadily through the air, and will likely have little
trouble shutting down the Golden Flashes offensively. Kent State won’t find
it’s first win in DeKalb this Saturday.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Illinois 42, Kent State 14