It’s Week Five in the season and Week Three of NCAA FOOTBALL 2014 PREDICTS THE FUTURE!
Last week, we simulated CMU vs. Miami ahead of the two programs’ conference opener. That sim resulted in a back-and-forth, closely-fought contest that Miami walked away victorious from by a final score of 35-31.
The actual game... didn’t really go like that. Miami was dominant from the start in a 31-14 victory on the road in Mt. Pleasant to start the MAC season off on the right foot. That puts NCAAPTF under 45 points thus far in our simulations, often over-estimating how often teams score in the game (though, it should be noted, we ran 15-minute quarters in the first simulation.)
We’re an even 1-1 so far in the season despite the point total deficit, but there’s plenty more opportunities to get it right.
Once again, we put it up to a vote on Twitter and after 185 entries, NIU vs. San Diego State emerged victorious from a batch of great candidates.
(Miami’s game vs. Notre Dame was disqualified due to the RedHawks being featured the previous week.)
Let’s see how it went down.
The Northern Illinois Huskies didn’t look great on offense, but they did just enough on defense to gain another victory against a Top 25 opponent on the road against the #19 San Diego State Aztecs by a final score of 13-10.
Points were at a premium from the start, as each team’s offense struggled to push the ball consistently, due in part to two sides showing fierce defensive capabilities, as NIU onl allowed 326 total yards on offense, while SDSU allowed 279.
DJ Brown opened up the scoring account for NIU with a 73-yard touchdown reception courtesy of a Daniel Santacaterina pass early in the first quarter to put the Huskies up 7-0.
Both teams exchanged punts on their next possessions before Christian Hagan kicked a 32-yard field goal to place NIU up by a score of 10-0. ON the next drive, SDSU would fail to convert in the red zone, but walked away with a 25-yard field goal from Jay Baron II.
That was the score at halftime, with NIU leading by a touchdown. Despite being ahead, the Huskies were only able to gain 125 yards to SDSU’s 163 on offense.
The third quarter went scoreless as both defenses clamped down. SDSU opened the quarter with linebacker Jay Henderson intercepting a Santacaterina pass in the redzone on the first possession of the second half and then recovered a fumble on the ensuing NIU possession.
SDSU was unable to get any points from either turnover, as the interception resulted in a punt, while the fumble recovery ulimately turned into a Shawun Lurry interception.
The clamps were still tight in the fourth quarter, as NIU gained another interception on an errant Chritstian Chapman pass after a 15-yard offensive penalty. NIU punted and gave the ball back to SDSU after just five plays.
The Aztecs finally broke the goal line on a 52-yard Chapman-to-Mikah Holder touchdown connection to bring the score to 10-10.
NIU proved to be methodical on what ultimately proved to be the final drive for the Huskies, as they ran the clock down with backup backs Marcus Jones and Tommy Mister. The Huskies looked to be in trouble after a nine-yard sack on second down and 13, but DJ Brown saved the day again with a 55-yard reception to extend the drive.
Hagan would kick a field goal to push the score to 13-10.
The Aztecs came back in a fury, passing the ball with shrewd accuracy. Chapman connected again with Holder for a 15-yard reception on first down before getting sacked for a six-yard loss by Josh Corcoran to set up a second-and-16 situation. Fred Trevillion hauled in a 12-yard pass to make it third-and-four, but Chapman was injured on the play, forcing backup Ryan Agnew into action on the deciding drive.
It didn’t end well, as Agnew went 0-of-2, including the game-sealing interception to Mayoni Olootu Jr. on fourth down.
Santacaterina was again able to bring success for the Huskies, improving to 4-0 as a starter for NIU, but we would be remiss to not mention that 138 of Santa’s 183 yards were to DJ Brown (one touchdown on three receptions.) The next closest receiver for NIU was Christian Blake (2 receptions, 22 yards.)
Santa and Jordan Huff tied for most carries as well, with Huff edging out Santacaterina 43 yards to 41 on the ground.
For SDSU, Chapman ended up 18-of-23 for 266 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions on the day. Tight end David Wells led the Aztec attack with six receptions for 74 yards, while Mikah Holder led in yards (77) and scored the team’s only touchdown.
Rashaad Penny, SDSU’s dynamic speesdster, didn’t get going on the ground very much, as the Aztecs were forced to play from behind from the start. Penny ended the day with 20 carries for 70 yards.
Defense proved to be the difference for each side, as Lurry and Olootu brought in three interceptions together for NIU, while Corcoran registered a sack to go with seven solo tackles an two tackles-for-loss. Mycial Allen led all players with eight tackles.
Noble Hall collected four tackles and four tackles-for-loss to go with a sack, while Troy Cassidy led the Aztecs with seven tackles on the day. Henderson collected the only interception for SDSU.