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No. 23 Northern Illinois at Central Michigan Preview

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The NIU Huskies take the road to Mt. Pleasant to take on the CMU Chippewas.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 23 Northern Illinois Huskies take to the road this week to take on the Central Michigan Chippewas in a change of homecoming venues. NIU had their hard-fought win over the lowly Akron Zips on their homecoming and now we have to travel to Mt. Pleasant for a pumped-up Chips squad on their homecoming. Well, time to spoil another one and make it 3-0 for the season after beating Purdue and Kent on theirs.

What has CMU done so far this season?

Sat, Aug 31 0-1 (0-0)
Sat, Sept 7 1-1 (0-0)
Sat, Sept 14 1-2 (0-0)
Sat, Sept 21 1-3 (0-1)
Sat, Sept 28 1-4 (0-1)
Sat, Oct 5 2-4 (1-1)
Sat, Oct 12 3-4 (2-1)

They are definitely an evolving team. While the Zips were able to almost beat Michigan, CMU got rocked to start the season and then barely beat New Hampshire. Their two top starters at QB were injured in the first game making way for Cooper Rush who hasn't been all bad for the Chips this season.

The rest of the season has been underwhelming. They beat a terrible Miami OH team. And then sure they beat Ohio, but the Bobcats helped them out by turning the ball over four times. The Chips might be a little high after that big road win and this might be a letdown spot.

What happened last year?

55-24 victory for NIU with 622 total yds and 407 on the ground, led by Leighton Settle with 152 and 3 TDs.

Series Record

NIU still has a losing record with the Chips with the record 22-25-1 overall.

The last loss in-conference was a 41-48 barn burner in Mt. Pleasant. The Huskies had an epic 4th quarter comeback in that one, but it was too little too late.

From 1998-2006 NIU was 8-0 vs the Zips. However, the last win in Mt. Pleasant was in 2005.


Dan Enos is in his 4th season and has a 16-28 total record with the school. He is on one o the hottest seats this season and is going to need to do a lot of work to keep his job. His previous position was RBs coach at Michigan State, having arguably the worst resume of any coach when a bunch of MAC schools were doing hiring a couple of years ago.

On offense

Rush has thrown for 217 ypg, but isn't all that efficient throwing 9 TDs and 9 INTs with just below a 55% completion rate. Not bad for a redshirt freshman. He'll improve as the season progresses.

At RB they seem pretty capable with Saylor Lavallii, who is 5th in the MAC with over 100 ypg and 5 TDs. He also has a pretty sweet mohawk. Their original starter Zurlon Tipton was injured with a season-ending ankle injury in the opener vs Michigan because this whole team got injured vs Michigan.

WR Titus Davis is an explosive playmaker with 518 yds and 4 TDs, but is dealing with a shoulder injury so he may not be 100% for tomorrow's game.

On the defense

Central Michigan's defense isn't bad. Statistically, it's better than Akron but stats lied about that game. They're ranked 5th in the MAC in yards allowed on D with 413 given up per game. That's also 78th in the nation. One strange stat is that they're ranked 69th in yds allowed but 111th in pass efficiency defense. That means they give up the big play and teams have been able to get the ball rolling on the ground as well.

In case NIU was worried about completing 3rd downs, CMU is 115th in the nation in 3rd down defense.

LB Justin Cherocci has been a tackling machine this season ranking 5th nationally with 73 total tackles. The sacks on this D is pretty spread around, but Cherocci leads the team with 3 as well.

OLB Shamari Benton also is 5th in the nation with 73 total tackles. Might be a little tough to run against these guys, even with Cameron Stingily back there.

S Avery Cunningham leads the team and is 3rd in the MAC with 35 solo tackles.


Team strategy

I just feel like every week is going to be like the Akron game from this week on. CMU is going to be a pesky team that will hard to be put away. Lynch has got to get in a rhythm early on and get on point with his receivers so it doesn't get to 3rd and long like it did so much last week. The Chips will try and slow it down with their running game but I don't think it will work with how explosive this NIU offense has been. The Huskies will hopefully have fixed their mistakes from last week and will be up for this road opponent. The defense has to force a turnover or two and the CMU QB has been good with that throwing 9 INTs so far. The Chips will be tricky, but the Huskies will prevail 38-21.