These two teams have met twice in the past five seasons, and Northern Illinois has won both contests by a combined ten points. The Ohio Bobcats (7-4, 4-3 MAC East) have solidified their spot in a bowl game, so this is mostly an opportunity to dethrone the kings of the MAC in recent years. Northern Illinois (8-3, 6-1 MAC West) can clinch a berth in the MAC a title game with a victory over the Bobcats at home tonight. This will be a test for the Huskies, as many could look at this game as a trap game, with the MAC championship game looming over those in DeKalb.
The Huskies need a win tonight over Ohio to have an opportunity to reach their sixth straight season with at least eleven wins. Rod Carey's team has not lost since week five in Mt. Pleasant, and after an impressive 27-19 victory over Western Michigan last week, Northern Illinois looks to finish the season on a hot streak. The Huskies have seen productive play out of their quarterback Ryan Graham, who was forced to step in after a season-ending injury to Drew Hare. They have also seen a spike in the play of running back Jordan Huff, who, alongside Joel Bouagnon, form a lethal combination in the backfield.
Ohio has secured their spot as the number two team in the MAC East, behind only the Bowling Green Falcons. The Bobcats are riding a two game winning streak against a pair of the bottom feeders in the MAC, in Kent State and Ball State. However, Ohio was able to handle these teams, winning by a combined 44 points in the two contests. Frank Solich's team has struggled with the top teams in the MAC this season, so it will be interesting to see how his team handles this match-up against a MAC power.
Quick Game Info
Game Date, Time: Tuesday, November 24th. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Location: Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, Illinois.
Television: This game will be receiving #MACtion's TV slot for the night, on ESPNU.
Odds: Ohio is currently a 13 point underdog on the road against Northern Illinois. The over/under for the game is 56 points. (Courtesy of Oddsshark.com)
Series: This will be the 21st meeting between the Bobcats and the Huskies. Northern Illinois has won the previous two meetings, and they also hold the series lead 11-9. These teams have met once in the MAC Championship game, in 2011, where the Huskies won by a slight 23-20 margin. Northern Illinois played in Athens last year and came out on top 21-14. This will be the first match-up in DeKalb since 2006.
Players To Watch
Ryan Graham (QB, NIU) - Since taking over for Drew Hare midway through the season, Graham has been a steady hand at the quarterback position for the Huskies. With over 500 yards and 5 touchdowns to his name so far, he has shown his team that he is capable of successfully leading Northern Illinois to victories. He has completed 57% of his passes, which isn't that far of a drop-off from Hare.
A.J. Ouelette (RB, Ohio) - A.J. Ouelette ran for his first 100-yard performance last week against Ball State. This season can be considered a disappointment for Ouelette, as he was receiving a good amount of hype heading into the season as Ohio's feature back. However, he had his first big game of the season last year, so it is reasonable to believe he is in store for another good performance.
Kurt Laseak (DL, Ohio) - Laseak has been a force on the defensive line for the Bobcats this year, as evidenced by his four sacks so far this season. The Huskie offensive line will need to pay extra attention to his presence in the trenches tonight.
Shawun Lurry (CB, NIU) - Lurry has surprised the FBS world and leads the country with 0.9 interceptions and 2.3 passes defended per game. He has eight INTs on the year, and has taken command of the Northern Illinois secondary. He will make it difficult for Derrius Vick and the Ohio aerial attack to get going.