Western Illinois Leathernecks (2-0) at NIU Huskies (0-3)
|Date & Time||Saturday September 24, 2016, 3:30 PM (EDT)|
The Line: NIU Huskies -7 -- Over/Under: 60
The Western Illinois Leathernecks and Northern Illinois Huskies meet Saturday afternoon at Brigham Field on ESPN3.
The Western Illinois Leathernecks look for another road victory in hopes of improving to an impressive 3-0 record. Sean Maguire is completing 59.3 percent of his passes for 445 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Maguire must continue to take care of the football for Western Illinios to have a chance here. Lance Lenoir and Isaiah Lesure have combined for 310 receiving yards and two touchdowns while Steve McShane has five receptions. The Western Illinois Leathernecks ground game is averaging 220.5 yards per contest, and McShane leads the way with 362 yards and four touchdowns. Defensively, Western Illinois is allowing 20.5 points and 446.5 yards per game. Brett Taylor leads the Leathernecks with 23 tackles, Quentin Moon has one sack and Justin Fitzpatrick has one pass deflection.
The Northern Illinois Huskies are desperate for a victory after a rough 0-3 start to the season. Ryan Graham is completing 52 percent of his passes for 278 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Graham has 10 touchdown passes on 152 career pass attempts. Kenny Golladay and Christian Blake have combined for 413 receiving yards and three touchdowns while Shane Wimann has six receptions. The Northern Illinois Huskies ground game is averaging 148.3 yards per contest, and Jordan Huff leads the way with 142 yards on 34 carries. Defensively, Northern Illinois is allowing 43.3 points and 516.7 yards per game. Bobby Jones IV leads the Huskies with 28 tackles, Jawuan Johnson has 5.5 tackles for loss and Mycial Allen has one interception.
I'm not ready to write off Northern Illinois just yet, as it did play two road games to start the season and just had to play a very good San Diego State team. The schedule didn't do the Huskies much favors and the injury to Drew Hare doesn't help. However, I can't lay a touchdown with a team that's allowing more than 500 yards per game and has allowed 40 or more points in four straight games. Western Illinois has played the best teams in the FCS and held it's own. The Leathernecks also have 11 seniors on their roster.
I'll take my chances with the free touchdown, as this is a game Western Illinois can win outright.