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Previewing the Northern Illinois Huskies as they take on the Buffalo Bulls at Huskie Stadium
Last year the game at Buffalo was one of the bizarre games all season long. I still don't know how the Huskies got past that one. The Bulls rallied back from a 31-10 deficit in the fourth quarter to get back to 30-31 and yet miss an extra point at the end to send the game to overtime. That team ended up with a 3-9 record, akin to this year's team which is 1-4.
Chazz Anderson had the game of his life at QB throwing for three TDs and rushing for one more, but despite leading the Huskies 572-328 yds, Anderson had 2 INTs and the Bulls put the ball on the ground a whopping three different times. However this year Anderson is gone and this is a different team, but they do return a lot of players that can make an impact.
Who to watch
Buffalo is primarily a rushing team. QB Alex Zordich hasn't been very effective completing less than 50% of his passes and has 8 TDs and 4 INTs.
RB Branden Oliver is the star of this offense, but will he be healthy? He's missed the last two games because of a knee injury, but is expected to return against the Huskies. Freshman RB Devin Campbell filled in nicely against Ohio rushing for 160 yds and a TD in a near upset win over Ohio. The offensive line is a big strength of this team.
WR Alex Neutz is a big threat downfield and is #3 in the MAC averaging 86.2 receiving yds per game.
OLB Khalil Mack is a monster on this 3-4 defense and leads the country in tackles for loss with 2.75 per game on a very aggressive defense. The Huskies will have to account for Mack on every single play of the game.
MLB Lee Skinner leads the team with 7.8 tackles per game and FS Witney Sherry is right behind him and Mack.
Like I said, Buffalo is going to run the ball a bunch (#2 in the MAC with 222.2 ypg) and I believe our defense is up to the task of stopping these guys especially if they aren't able to throw the ball around.
If you take a peek at their stats, you'll see that they're at the bottom of a lot of categories except rank #5 in the nation in sacks. Now that's an aggressive defense.
It's going to be important for the Huskies not to get too exciting for this homecoming and hold on to the ball. NIU has been good at getting turnovers lately and this game should be no different. Buffalo is only 115th in turnover margin so that shouldn't be a problem.
On offense we should be able to do a good job rushing the ball and stick with that plan. NIU should also pass sparingly and watch out for the stellar linebacking corps at all times.
On defense, the front 7 is going to have to step up and stop the run at all costs. I trust the secondary to play some man and make Zordich throw the ball around.
This is Buffalo's third straight road game and the Huskies are an overall better team this year. It might be close for a bit, but the red and black will pull ahead in the 2nd half. NIU 42, Buffalo 17
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