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Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Central Michigan Chippewas football preview: Talkin' sMACk

Normally Nick on Nick crime is strictly prohibited, but we will make an exception for the opening weekend of conference play. Central Michigan has been the only MAC team to give Northern Illinois trouble recently, will the trend continue?

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Burzych: Let me just start out by saying, please do us all a favor and leave those hideous mustard and maroon uniforms you wore in DeKalb in the closet on Saturday. My eyes are still sore.

Nick Fries: I can't promise you that, but I can promise you that whatever uniforms we wear, you'll get a good look at them from the back when we're running away from that Northern Illinois defense. Our offense is explosive.

Burzych: Nothing says explosive quite like 34 carries for 84 yards against powerhouse Monmouth and 2.4 yards per carry as a team through four games. Yeah, yeah, Cooper Rush is off to a decent start, but perhaps you've heard of a certain cornerback named Shawun Lurry?

In case you you haven't, go ahead and ask Blake Decker, Cardale Jones (you could even ask him twice just to make sure), or Troy Flutie about him. After holding no. 1 Ohio State and Boston College to three offensive touchdowns combined, I think the D will be able to handle pooper, I mean Cooper, just fine.

Fries: Hey, it's taken our running game a couple games to develop, but trust me, I think we'll manage just fine. You can make fun of Cooper Rush all you want, but you can take a peek at his numbers from just his last two games. 430 yards passing against a solid Syracuse team, and then 285 yards through the air against the no. 2 team in the nation in Michigan State.

But, I hope the Huskies have fully straightened up, because giving up 30 points to UNLV in week one is not a good season-opener for the folks in DeKalb. Speaking of defense, you should go ahead and ask Connor Cook, perhaps the top rated college quarterback, how easy it is to throw against the Chippewas, because he managed a mere 143 yards through the air.

Burzych: Impressive numbers indeed from Mr. Cooper and the D and yet somehow, the Chips have as many FBS victories as I do this year. Let's be honest here, the CMU way since the departure of Dan LeFevour has been do just enough to lose. Only team in the conference who can seem to beat Northern Illinois, can't find a way to beat Ball State and Toledo. Pull off one of the greatest football players in college football history in the Bahama's Bowl? Miss the two point conversation and still find a way to lose? What's it like losing to P.J. Fleck, by the way? That has to be a, wait for it, sinking feeling.

I imagine Saturday will live up to a similar script. Cooper will play well, Central will probably hold a late lead, and somehow they'll find a way to blow it. After struggling for back to back games, I get the feeling the Central Michigan way will be just the recipe to get Drew Hare, Kenny Golladay, and the NIU offense well again.

Fries: I would have to agree with you, to a point. This year is a whole new ball game with our newest arrival on the coaching staff. New head coach John Bonamego has instilled a culture of resiliency, and it has shown so far in our admirable performances against top tier opponents. Entering conference play, the Chippewas are beginning to click on offense, with the running game getting started. Our starting back, sophomore Devon Spalding, has started to reach full form, rushing for nearly 200 yards in the past two games.

And, also, should I remind you about our 34-17 victory over the eventual MAC champions (you guys) in DeKalb last season? Well, yeah, it happened, just in case you forgot.

Burzych: Allow me to point in the direction of the Mid-American Conference championship flag hanging from the Yordon Center to show you how much I care. In all seriousness, I think the only fan base in the MAC happy Dan Enos took the Arkansas offensive coordinator job (other than maybe Central Michigan fans themselves), is the fan base in DeKalb. One of the great mysteries in the history of the conference is how Enos gave the Huskies trouble while they steamrolled through everyone else.

This game is going to come down to which offense shows up for the Huskies. If Hare and company can play to the level they did against UNLV and Murray State, I expect a fairly easy win. If the offensive line blocks like they did last two weeks? Well, I would rather not think about that.

Fries: And your offensive line better show up, because the Chippewas defensive line is anchored by one of the top defensive linemen in the MAC, Blake Serpa. Also, fellow D-lineman Joe Ostman is still questionable as to whether he will return on Saturday, but, if he does, I hope the Huskie offensive line is prepared.

I hope Drew Hare is getting ready for the stingy Central Michigan pass defense. This defense held Connor Cook to under 150 yards passing last week, so they understand a thing or two about shutting down a passing attack.

Burzych: More like Blake Derpa...AMIRITE?!?!11 Central Michigan has never lacked talent, but they did lack coaching. Despite the 1-3 record, I like the direction they are headed. With that being said, this is the first time the Huskies have lost back to back games since 2011. Losing is not something this program is used to, and I do not expect it to continue.

Look for Rush and company to move the ball better than either Boston College or Ohio State did, but I am expecting the Huskie offense to get their act together Saturday. Look for the Huskies to spread out the Chips' defense more than they attempted to in out of conference play. Expect to see Drew Hare carry an added load in the run game this week. The "quarterback power" concept has been extremely productive for Northern Illinois since the arrival of Dave Doeren in 2011, and I except to see a much larger dose of it in Mt. Unpleasant.

Burzych's Prediction: Huskies 31, Chips 21

Fries: Our new head has led the team on the right path so far this season, and I only expect the competitiveness to continue this week. It's hard to pick against Northern Illinois to lose their third straight, but Central Michigan seems to be coming together, and if all things fall into the right place, then the Chippewas will come away with their first FBS win of the season (I know this sounds bad, but it hasn't been that bad).

Fries's Prediction: Chips 27, Huskies 21