Team: Northern Illinois Huskies
Game Date, Location: September 1, Dekalb, Illinois
2016 Record: 4-8
2016 Overall Offense Ranking: 27th
2016 Overall Defense Ranking: 98th
Bill Connolly’s Projected S&P: 86th
Last Matchup: Boston College 17 NIU 14
Key Players: Running back Jordan Huff might be the most explosive player on this team, averaging almost 8 yards a carry in 2016, with more of a workload he could be a threat against even the best defenses. The Huskies have a very experienced line featuring all conference Max Sharping and two other OL (Luke Shively and Jordan Stecker) who have considerable experience. NIU’s secondary is also very experienced with four seniors (Brandon Mayes, Mycial Allen, Lurry and Mayomi Olootu Jr.). The quarterback situation seems up in the air right now, as both last year’s starter Ryan Graham and sophomore Daniel Santacaterina are battling to be the starter.
Why Boston College Will Win This Game: As much as Bill Connolly wanted to sugar coat it in his preview, NIU’s defense wasn’t very good. They got much better as the season progressed with four great games to end the year, but that’s what happens when your final four opponents are Bowling Green, Toledo, Kent State and Eastern Michigan. BC should be able to score points on the Huskies, and if they can get the sticks moving early through a mix of pass and run they should be in good shape. Look this is a Steve Addazio offense we are talking about here, short passes to Jeff Smith/Michael Walker/Tommy Sweeney with some bruising runs should do the trick. BC’s experience on offensive line should on paper be a huge plus for the Eagles as well, as NIU finished 89th in the country in sacks.
Why Boston College Will Not Win This Game: Friday night #MACtion under the lights to start the season, which as we all know means anything can happen. If BC’s offense comes out flat, and Darius Wade/Anthony Brown make mistakes against an experienced Huskies defense, they could be in trouble. With BC trotting out a young/inexperienced quarterback, they are going to need step on the throttle early, and take the crowd out of it, and they can not afford to fall behind early. While NIU’s offense isn’t as dynamic as it was in the days of Dave Doeren and Jordan Lynch, they are still more dynamic than BC’s, and it would only take a big run or pass to set the tone in a dangerous game for the Eagles.
AJ’s Odds BC Wins This Game: 55%. I have faith Boston College will go out there and do just enough to win this game. Will it be pretty? Probably not. But what game has been under Steve Addazio?
Bill Connolly’s Odds BC Wins This Game: 53%