Preview: No. 16 Northern Illinois at Toledo

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 16 Northern Illinois Huskies travel to Toledo to take on the Rockets in their second straight mid-week MACtion game.

The Toledo Rockets are a dastardly bunch. They always have been and they always will be to the NIU Huskies.

The spread is only favoring NIU by 2.5 points on the road so this one has me extremely nervous to what might happen in the Glass Bowl.

Northern Illinois (10-0, 6-0) @ Toledo (7-3, 5-1)
Gametime: 7 PM
TV Channel: ESPN2

A serious MAC Rivalry

The Ball State Cardinals are a friendly rival in-conference that we have yet to hand the Bronze Stalk trophy to. The Toledo Rockets are next-level #MACtion blood rivals angry for our souls. Rarely anything good happens to the Huskies when they travel to Toledo. NIU is just 11-29 against the Rockets all-time and their wins against Toledo were in 2011, 2005 and 1972. Not the greatest trend for the Huskies here. Toledo will be looking for triple revenge after narrowly beating them last year 31-24 in Huskie Stadium and that crazy 63-60 game in 2011.

Toledo this season

Two of their losses were to competitive SEC teams in Missouri and Florida on the road, ones that you're usually not going to win. Their only conference loss is another respectable one on the road to Ball State. It's tough to win on the road in this conference no matter what anybody says. NIU may have some trouble tonight in the very same situation.

Toledo's Offense

On O, the Rockets rank 37th in the nation, which seems like a down year for them. They rank 14th in rushing offense with senior David Fluellen taking this team on his back ranking second in the MAC with 133 ypg along with 10 Tds so far this season. He also averages over 7 ypc which is just insane. Just 152 carries for 1,067 yds. BUT, he's been hurt with an ankle injury the past couple games so freshman Kareem Hunt hasn't skipped a beat averaging 75 ypg with 6 TDs of his own.

Terrance Owens is back at QB this year and he's been OK. 184 ypg, 13 TDs, 6 INTs with a 62% completion rate. All middle-of-the-road numbers in the MAC. He's been serviceable and helped the Rockets win some big games this season. The speedy 5'9" Bernard Reedy is his favorite target through the air as he has 74 ypg and 6 TDs on the season.

Toledo's Defense

Even though Toledo's D is only ranked 77nd in the nation, they tend to really turn it on when playing in the glass bowl. Toledo struggles the most on passing defense as they are 101st in the nation in yds allowed through the air and 92nd in pass efficiency D. Rushing D is slightly better at 62nd.

Turnovers have been a huge part of this defense as they rank 20th in the nation with a +.8 per game on the season.

Players to watch out for are DE Jayrone Elliott and MLB Junior Sylvestre. Elliott is 2nd in the MAC with 7 sacks and Sylvestre is 4th in the MAC with 98 tackles.

NIU Strategy

It's going to be full-fledged #MACtion as these two squads face off today. The Rockets will be trying their darndest to knock the Huskies off their pedestal so far this year as usual. The key to this one will be turnovers as Lynch has to play smart and not get intimidated in a hostile environment. He's been here before so this shouldn't be that big of a deal. Lynch will have to spread it around through the air like he did last week and somebody like Da'Ron Brown is going to have to step it up again. Lynch can only do so much on the ground and it might be tough on the road against this D.

Toledo will give it their all this week. And It's Toledo so it's gonna be a fight.

GO HUSKIES!!

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