Can NIU just run through the rest of the season?

OK, so we beat Minnesota.  We were only one fumble away from beating Illinois.  If we play Iowa State with Chandler Harnish at quarterback then we win that game.

Is Minnesota a good team?  No, they are not.  They are the worst team in the Big 10 at this point in the season.  Tim Brewster is as good as done in the Land of Lakes. 

This is a perfect example of how coaching and experience are going to trump bad coaching and talent almost every single time.  Minnesota's front seven consisted of four 3-star recruits and two 4-star recruits.  NIU's offense?  All 2-star players or less (Chad Spann was a walk-on).  Plus we had three new starters on the OL.

All of them were new starters and they got worked on Saturday.  It wasn't even close.  Illinois was able to stop the run and that was the difference in that game, barely.

NIU now ranks nationally 12th in the nation rushing for 245 yds per game.  Chad Spann is the 13th best rusher going for 114 ypg

So who the heck is going to stop NIU's rushing game this season?  Here are the remaining opponents for the Huskies and how they rank nationally in stopping the run and total defense:

  • Illinois (2-1) - 25th, 48th
  • Minnesota (1-3) - 97th, 85th
  • @ Akron (0-4) - 86th, 107th
  • Temple (3-1) - 73rd, 74th
  • Buffalo (1-3) - 59th, 56th
  • CMU (3-1) - 18th, 24th
  • @ WMU (1-2) - 84th, 46th
  • Toledo (3-1) - 17th, 75th
  • @ Ball State (0-4) - 89th, 91st
  • @ EMU (0-4) - 119th, 114th

Quick thoughts:

  • Akron has a decent run defense, but their pass efficiency D ranks 114th in the nation.  The new coaching staff is still breaking in the new schemes on both sides of the ball.
  • Even though it may not show on the statsheet at this point, Temple has the best defensive talent out of any team in the MAC.  They have probably have played the toughest schedule so far out of anybody.
  • Buffalo is going to be a tough team to run against, especially since they use the 3-4 technique that Illinois kind of had.  Like Akron, they have a new coaching staff and things are especially difficult for them on offense right now.  They are also -3 in turnover margin.
  • Central Michigan is yet another team with a brand new coaching staff.  Their defense has played extremely well, but their 3 wins are against two of the worst offenses in the nation and an FCS team.  However, the Chips have by far the best linebacking corps in the conference.
  • Western Michigan has played only 3 games so far, but haven't looked all that great.  They too have a new defensive coordinator so we'll just watch how this team develops throughout the season.  Playing them on the road will be tough.
  • Toledo suddenly has a good defense.  Not unlike the one that beat us last year in Toledo.  However, they are helped out by a +6 turnover ratio that probably isn't sustainable.  They sure did shake off their opening loss vs. Arizona pretty well though to beat a Marve-less Purdue this past weekend.
  • Ball State and Eastern Michigan...uhhhh

Here are what I think are the best units that we will still have to face this season running the ball with the best players in parentheses:

Best defensive lines:

1. Temple (DE Adrian Robinson,  DT Muhammad Wilkerson)

2. Akron (DT Almondo Sewell, DE Hasan Hazime, DE Shawn Lemon)

3. CMU (DT Sean Murnane, NG John Williams)

4. Buffalo (DE Steven Means, NG Anel Montanez, DE Richie Smith)

Best linebackers:

1.CMU (MLB Nick Bellore, WLB Matt Berning)

2. Temple (MLB Elijah Joseph, OLB Amara Kamara)

3. Buffalo (OLB Justin Winters, ILB Raphael Akobundu)

4. Akron (MLB Brian Wagner, SLB Mike Thomas)

I honestly feel that the Huskies have a chance to go undefeated.  Our two biggest obstacles will probably be the next two weeks traveling to Akron and then facing the Temple Owls in Huskie Stadium.  As a Huskie fan, you have to think that there's going to be some slip-up along the way though.

What do you think?

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