Northern Illinois is heading back to Detroit based on the power of their Defense. For the second year in a row NIU is powered by their D, but this year the unit is even more key to their success then in the past. In many NIU games this year, even in some of their wins, the Huskie offense has been nearly nonexistent.
They have the potential to have a good game, the talent is there, but the offense has been mistake prone. Marcus Childers has thrown 11 touchdowns and completed 57% of his passes. Those are not mind blowing numbers but they are serviceable. But the down side is that he has thrown nine interceptions.
What should be the most worrisome part of his game is that he is a dual threat running quarterback. UB’s defense got lit up three times this season, and all three teams had a quarterback that could run the ball. Childers has run for 438 yards and six touchdowns this year.
The defensive backs need to watch D.J. Brown, the scoring target, and Jauan Wesley the big play RAC guy. Buffalo corner backs Brandon Williams and Cameron Lewis have three picks each and have combined for 80 tackles.
NIU uses a committee backfield, Tre Harbison leads NIU on the ground, with his 950 yards and four touchdowns and Marcus Jones has put up 527 yards and four TDs. Jones is averageig 5.8 yards per carry.
The pieces are there for NIU, it’s the execution that has been lacking.
On the other side of the ball NIU is all business. All-American Sutton Smith, and the front seven have been terrorizing quarterbacks all year long. In recent weeks Tyree Jackson has run quite a bit more than he did earlier in the season. He may need to scramble a few times in this game (For the love of Gill let’s hope he secures the ball)
UB’s Tyler Mabry may be the unsung hero if UB wins this game. The O-Line will have it’s hands full with a very athletic ant potent NIU defensive front. Mabry as a lead blocker in the run game and as a chip blocker in the passing game.
A few good blocks will help Jackson make the big plays that UB may need to win this game. The Buffalo quarterback has thrown for 2605 yards and 25 touchdowns this season.
It could also help spring the freshmen duo of Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks, who aver very shifty and dangerous running backs.
To win this game UB’s going to need more 24 points, I believe that if the defense shows up keeping NIU’s offense to less than 17 points is certainly possible but it only takes one back special teams play, one fumble recovery to put points on the board while the offense is on the sidelines.
Getting more than 24 points is going to depend
- Mabry’s blocking
- Jackson securing the ball
- UB getting off to a very fast start while NIU end Josh Corcoran is out for the first half because of a targeting penalty last week.
It should be a fun game. My prediction Buffalo 23, NIU 17