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NIU Huskies vs Ohio Bobcats: A Primer

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Northern Illinois (7-3, 5-1) @ Ohio (7-3, 5-1)

Kickoff: Saturday, 1:00 PM, TV: All MACcess/, Radio: 670 the Score

Weather forecast: 52 degrees, overcast

Spread: Ohio by 1 point

Looking in to the mirror

Northern Illinois and Ohio have many things in common, but with small changes.  One coach is from Kansas (Kill) and one is from Nebraska (Solich).  Both teams have played sorry MAC teams, but we're in the West and they are in the East. 

In terms of strength of schedule, Sagarin has NIU at 131st and Ohio at 117th.  FEI has NIU at 106th and Ohio at 117th.  Advantage: Push

  • Ohio's Turnover Margin: 8th in the Nation
  • NIU's Turnover Margin: 8th in the Nation

These teams have gotten here in very different ways.  NIU has only had 4 balls intercepted all season.  Ohio has had 12.  NIU has only lost 5 fumbles all season, whereas the Bobcats have lost 8.

On the defensive side of things, Ohio has intercepted 15 balls so far this season, while the Huskies have less than half that amount with 7.  OU has also recovered 15 fumbles compared to 12 by the Huskies. 

So in terms of holding on to the ball, it's Advantage: NIU.  In terms of causing turnovers, it's Advantage: Ohio.

Ohio last week

Luckily the Bobcats were on national TV against the Buffalo Bulls for all to see.  To me, Ohio just looked like a  bland team out there on the field.  If it weren't for 3 turnovers by Buffalo and numerous dropped passes by the UB players then the Bulls would have won the game.  They were able to burn the Bobcats deep, but couldn't stop them all that much on offense.  One of the main problems were the Ohio WRs getting deep themselves and causing havoc.  The final was an unimpressive 27-24 win over a below-average MAC East squad.

Ohio so far this season

Ohio is essentially a 2008 Buffalo wannabe where they thrive off of forcing turnovers, all while getting rocked yardage wise.  In the 6 wins that Ohio has over D-I opponents (excl Cal Poly), they only had more yards than their opponent in two of them (Miami & Ball State).

In their only MAC loss vs Kent State, the Bobcats got drilled by the Golden Flashes defensively, as their rushing game got held to a net -9 yds.  KSU chucked it around offensively 38 times and Spencer Keith finished with 23 completions for 273 yds and 2 TDs.  RB Jacquise Terry was able to move it for 110 yds on the ground on 31 carries (3.5).  Theo Scott was sick (AWW BOO HOO) and threw 2 INTs when freshman Tyler Tettleton relieved him and threw a pick himself.  They finished with only 164 yds offensively.

9/05 Connecticut 0-1 (0-0) L 23-16
9/12 @ North Texas 1-1 (0-0) W 31-30 OT
9/19 Cal Poly 2-1 (0-0) W 28-10
9/26 @ Tennessee 2-2 (0-0) L 34-23
10/03 @ Bowling Green 3-2 (1-0) W 44-37
10/10 @ Akron 4-2 (2-0) W 19-7
10/17 Miami (OH) 5-2 (3-0) W 28-7
10/24 Kent State 5-3 (3-1) L 20-11
10/31 @ Ball State 6-3 (4-1) W 20-17
11/10 @ Buffalo 7-3 (5-1) W 27-24
11/21 Northern Illinois 2:00 PM
11/27 Temple 11:00 AM

Kill on Ohio

On Ohio's turnover margin:
"They're very physical. They're huge up front. The one defensive tackle is huge. They are a big, physical defensive unit. Their safeties are aggressive. We're very similar in what we try to do, aggressive-wise. When you're aggressive, you cause turnovers. That will probably be the key in the game is who's going to take care of the football the best."

Ohio O vs NIU D

On Ohio's offense:
"They're a big challenge because they run the pistol. They're completely different from anyone that we face. They run the same thing Nevada does and they have been very successful on offense, out in the WAC. They're very good at executing what they do. It's totally different than what you will see throughout the year. If you don't play assignment football, it's going to be a long day." 

Theo Scott is just an average QB that runs the offense well and has a 13-10 TD to INT ratio.  5'8" 185 RB Chris Garrett is a scat-back that is Ohio's main threat on the ground.  Their lack of big backs and Donte Harden's deteriorating health means that they don't have much of a power running game.

LaVon Brazill is their fastest WR and a consistent deep threat.  Their other WRs in Taylor Price and Terrence McCrae are definite threats in their redzone, again because the lack of a good inside run game.

Key Matchups

  • Ohio's 92nd ranked Rushing Offense vs NIU's 27th ranked Rushing Defense. Advantage: NIU
  • Ohio's 102nd ranked Total Offense vs NIU's 24th ranked Total Defense. Advantage: NIU
  • Ohio's 112th ranked Red Zone Offense vs NIU's 4th ranked Red Zone Defense.  Advantage: NIU

NIU O vs Ohio D

On Ohio's run defense:
"Ohio is very good on defense. They're so big on the inside; it makes them hard to move. Their defense and our defense; I think it's a great matchup. I really do. I think there's a lot of comparisons there on paper that it looks to be a great football game."

NG Marcellis Williamson is DEAR GOD HE'S 342 LBS.  Might be a little tough to move that guy.  Noah Keller and Lee Renfro are absolute beasts at Linebacker with 97 and 73 tackles respectively.  Their secondary is effective and is led by safeties Patrick Tafua (2 INTs, 6 brup) and Gerald Moore (4 INTs).

Key Matchups

  • NIU's 11th ranked Rushing Offense vs Ohio's 66th ranked Rushing Defense. Advantage: NIU

  • NIU's 37th ranked Passing Efficiency vs Ohio's 22nd ranked Pass Efficiency Defense. Advantage: Ohio
  • NIU's 27th ranked Sacks Allowed vs Ohio's 85th ranked Sacks. Advantage: NIU
  • NIU's 23rd ranked Third-down Efficiency vs Ohio's 22nd ranked Third-down Efficiency Defense.  Advantage: Push
  • NIU's 6th ranked Red Zone Efficiency vs Ohio's 60th ranked Red Zone Efficiency Defense.  Advantage: NIU

Special Teams Key Matchups

  • NIU's 33rd ranked Kickoff Returns vs Ohio's 10th ranked Kickoff Return Yardage Defense.  Advantage: Ohio
  • NIU's 45th ranked Punt Returns vs Ohio's 111th ranked Net Punting.  Advantage: NIU
  • Ohio's 80th ranked Kickoff Returns vs NIU's 19th ranked Kickoff Return Yardage Defense.  Advantage: NIU

Final Tally: 8-2-2 Northern Illinois Huskies


  • This is finals week for the Ohio Bobcats.  A large chunk of students will not be attending the game on Saturday for this reason.
  • Injuries.  Who will be healthy for the Huskies?  Ohio has also had their fair share of players hurt as well, including both of their starting DEs.

Your turn

What do you expect to see from the Huskies on Saturday?