Northern Illinois @ Akron Zips Preview

Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE

The Northern Illinois Huskies take on the Akron Zips in a tricky road MAC game.

The Akron Zips have been a MAC doormat for quite some time now but they have experienced a bit of a turnaround this year with their new coach Terry Bowden. Bowden is the old standby on the college football scene most notably for his Auburn stint until 1998 and then broadcasting and then returning to coach North Alabama for a couple years in 2008. It's been a strange, winding road for Bowden and he is looking to turn around this program and build up his coaching resume for the time being.

Who to watch

Offense

QB Dalton Williams has just been chucking it all over the field. He's not the most consistent QB with 19 TDs and 9 INTs, but has passed for 2,205 yds completing 61.8% of his passes. That makes him basically a middle of the road MAC QB who will just keep throwing it up there. He's a 5th year transfer from Stephen F. Austin so he knows what he's doing at this point.

Akron's rushing offense is only ranked 91st in the nation, but RB Jawon Chrisholm is actually the 36th best rusher in the nation averaging 96.43 yds per game. Coach Doeren talks him up big, as well as their WR Marquelo Suel, who is averaging 7 catches for 72 ypg this season.

Defense

CB Avis Commack's job will be to shut down Martel Moore. He is a 6'3" Florida State transfer and arguably their best player on D. Other than that, there's not too much in the cupboard right now for Akron. MLB Kurt Mangum leads the team in tackles with almost 9 tpg and DE J.D. Griggs has 4 sacks to lead the team.

Stats

Akron has the #9 passing offense in the nation right now, so they are going to throw the ball through the air as much as possible in this game. It truly will be a good test for our excellent secondary. If we can stop the Zips passing game then we can stop anybody.

The problem for Akron is their defense, as they rank as one of the worst teams in the nation in stopping teams. 105th in total defense, 108th in rushing defense and 106th in pass efficiency defense. NIU is going to have a field day playing against these guys on offense.

Strategy

It's a good thing that our defense is the strong part of the team this season. In a normal NIU year, we would have to rely on the offense putting up enough points to stop the Zips, however this year the defense should be able to make enough stops to put this team away early.

The Zips can score in bunches, so it is important to get off to an early lead and continue to not turn the ball over. Things could get a bit crazy, especially on the road. NIU must remain patient and play their game and force Akron to make the mistakes in this one.

Prediction

Yet another blowout, but expect more offense in this one.

Huskies 48, Akron 21

Predictions for this game?

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