FACTS & STATS: Site: Huskie Stadium (23,595) — DeKalb, Illinois. Television:
ESPN3.com. Home Record: Miami-Ohio 1-2, Northern Illinois 2-1. Away Record:
Miami-Ohio 0-4, Northern Illinois 2-1. Neutral Record: Miami-Ohio 0-0,
Northern Illinois 0-0. Conference Record: Miami-Ohio 1-2, Northern Illinois
1-1. Series Record: Northern Illinois leads, 8-7.
GAME NOTES: After ending the nation’s longest losing streak just a few
weekends ago against Massachusetts, the Miami-Ohio RedHawks fell back into the
losing column with a defeat at Akron. Miami will seek its second win this
season as the team travels to face the Northern Illinois Huskies at Huskie
Stadium in a Mid-American Conference bout Saturday.
The RedHawks ended the nation’s longest losing streak at 21 games, which dated
back to the 2013 season, with a victory over another then-winless squad in
UMass. But the RedHawks couldn’t keep up with Akron last weekend in a 29-19
loss on the road.
After a near-perfect season and a MAC championship a year ago, the NIU Huskies
have already dropped two games this season without Heisman candidate Jordan
Lynch under center. The Huskies are coming off a 34-17 defeat at the hands of
Central Michigan in last weekend’s contest.
The two teams have met 15 times in their series history, with Northern
Illinois holding the slim 8-7 all-time advantage. The series began back in
1970, and hasn’t been played since the 2010 season.
Miami’s offense sputtered in the first few weeks of the regular season, but
has since been performing at a much more capable level, which was shown in the
42-41 win over the Minutemen. In fact, the RedHawks haven’t been completely
overpowered in some of their games against higher competition. Last Saturday,
transfer quarterback Andrew Hendrix got even better, passing for 352 yards and
three touchdowns with an interception in the loss to Akron.
Hendrix has been steadily improving in this new environment. The former Notre
Dame player has the talent, he just needed time to adjust to the system. Now
that he’s comfortable with his receivers and surrounding players, he’s helped
orchestrate some high-scoring games against UMass, Buffalo and Cincinnati.
Receiver David Frazier has been one of his top targets this season, and caught
a team-best nine passes for 132 yards and two scores last Saturday.
The RedHawks do lack a trustworthy running game. Spencer McInnis is the go-to
running back, although his numbers haven’t really been up to snuff in an
offense that seems to be getting better. He rushed for just 32 yards on 10
carries last Saturday, and was out-carried by Hendrix (13 totes) in the
contest. A key weakness has been the offensive line, which surrendered nine
sack to Akron last weekend.
Defensively, the team has also been slowly getting better under new coach
Chuck Martin. The team held Akron to 318 total yards of offense last weekend,
and recovered both of the fumbles the Zips couldn’t corral. But limiting a
team’s scoring hasn’t been a strong suit this year, as Miami has only
contained an opponent to under 29 points just once.
Defensive back Quinten Rollins led the team against Akron with eight tackles,
and added a pass breakup to his stat line. Defensive lineman Bryson Albright
registered a pair of tackles for loss in the defeat, adding yet another sack
to his resume. The team will need to be wary of a tough Northern Illinois
running game headed into this week’s matchup.
It wasn’t that Northern Illinois performed poorly against Central Michigan
last weekend in the team’s 34-17 defeat. It’s that the Huskies were completely
outmatched against a suddenly red-hot Chippewas offense, which ran for 283
yards in the contest. Northern Illinois, typically run-centric, dashed for
just 110 yards on 33 carries in the game, led by Cameron Stingily’s 46 yards
on 13 totes.
NIU is usually a very capable team when running the football, but last weekend
the Huskies just ran up against a touch opponent. Northern Illinois averages
231.7 rushing ypg this season, and has scored 11 times on the ground. Stingily
leads the team with 280 yards rushing on 56 carries, adding a pair of scores
to his resume. Joel Bouagnon tops the team with 61 carries and four
touchdowns, though Stingily has played in one fewer game than Bouagnon.
When it comes to the passing game, Drew Hare has been the man to fill the tall
order of replacing Lynch under center. Hare has played in all six games this
season, and has completed 76-of-128 passes for 997 yards, 10 touchdowns and
just one interception. Not bad, although more than half of the team’s offense
on average comes from the running game. Hare was on point for the most part
last weekend, throwing for 231 yards and a pair of touchdowns against one
interception – his first of the season. The Huskies should turn it around
offensively against Miami.
If last weekend’s game was any indication of the direction in which the
defense is trending, there may be cause for concern for the Huskies. Thomas
Rawls was able to rush for 270 yards on NIU (the third-largest single-game
total this season in the FBS), as the Chippewas gained a total of 552 yards of
total offense. Northern Illinois has given up an average of 387.7 ypg and 25.3
ppg to opponents in six games played, while last weekend raised all the
Safety Marlon Moore leads the team in tackles (51) this season, one year after
NIU safety Jimmitheir
own. Bowling Green can always find a way to win, especially when bowl
eligibility is on the line.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bowling Green 41, Western Michigan 35