The Northern Illinois Huskies and Miami RedHawks enter this weekend’s game with identical records, 1-1 in the MAC and 2-4 overall.
Last week NIU shocked Ohio, 39-36, on a game-winning walk-off field goal while the RedHawks, after a promising first quarter, were shut down 38-16 by WMU.
When: Saturday, October 19th at 2:30 p.m. (EST)
Where: Yager Stadium — Oxford, OH
Weather: Sunny and high 60s/low 70s
Odds: NIU is a 2.5 point favorite and has a 51.3% chance to win according to ESPN’s FPI
This will be just the 19th meeting between the two schools in a series that dates back to 1970. As it stands, the series is tied 9-9 with each team seeming to win in streaks.
Miami won the first two meetings by a combined score of 78-3 before the Huskies claimed the next two games to even things up. From there, the RedHawks won five straight over a 16 year span. But, starting in the new millennium, the Huskies won the next five to even things up at 7-7.
Since 2010, the teams have met just four times, with each team winning twice, including Miami’s come-from-behind MAC Championship Game win in 2010.
Largest margin of victory:
NIU: 45-12 (33 points), 2015
Miami: 48-0 (48 points), 1970
Longest win streak:
NIU: 5 games (2002-2009)
Miami: 5 games (1984-1998)
Miami - 1 (13-7, 2018)
I follow the Huskies each and every week and I still have no idea what to expect from them in any game this season.
There has been something new each and every game from the the Huskies...which is a lot different than the Rod Carey era when we knew exactly what five plays the Huskies offense would run. And, more than anything, it’s been the self-inflicted wounds that have caused them to be 2-4 instead of 4-2 (they could have easily beat Vanderbilt and SHOULD HAVE beat Ball State).
On offense, quarterback Ross Bowers has certainly given them a passing attack, throwing for 1635 yards and five touchdowns. However, he’s only completing 57.3% of his passes and has also thrown five interceptions.
Tre Harbison, NIU’s premiere halfback, was quiet for the first four games before really coming on strong the last two. He’s now rushed for 483 yards and five touchdowns on the year (259 yards and all five scores coming in the previous two games).
The Huskies continue to spread the ball to five players in the air; wide outs Cole Tucker, Tyrice Richie, and Spencer Tears and tight ends Daniel Crawford and Mitch Brinkman.
Crawford leads the team with 24 catches and 337 yards while Tucker is a close second at 23 grabs and 326 yards. Brinkman has a touchdown and 284 yards on his 21 receptions while Richie has 19 catches for 267 yards and a team-leading three scores. Tears has 13 catches for 246 yards and a TD.
Defensively it’s been the Antonio Jones-Davis show for NIU. The senior linebacker leads the team in tackles (51), TFLs (6), and sacks (2). He also has an interception, a pass break-up, and a blocked kick.
Mykelti Williams and Jalen McKie have led the secondary this season. Williams’ 42 tackles is second on the team and he also has 2.5 TFL, a forced fumble, and a pass break-up. McKie has 28 tackles, two blocked kicks, four pass break-ups (leads the team), a TFL, and an interception returned for a touchdown.
Miami’s offense has struggled some, only gaining 260.2 yards per game (NIU is averaging 387.8). But they have played one hell of a non-conference schedule, in Iowa, Cincinnati, and Ohio State (all of whom are in the top-25 right now).
On the ground they use four different backs, all of which have 29+ carries and 100+ yards. Jaylon Bester leads the team with 168 yards and has two scores on his 40 attempts, but he was sidelined for a few games and has only played in three contests this season. Trye Shelton also has 40 carries but has only managed 155 yards and a score. Maurice Thomas is third with 121 yards on his 29 carries. And, lastly, Davion Johnson leads the team with 45 carries but only has 110 yards and two TDs. Quarterback Brett Gabbert leads Miami with three rushing touchdowns.
Gabbert, when not running the ball, is connecting on 54.68% of his throws for 909 yards and three touchdowns to five interceptions.
Like NIU, the RedHawks also have multiple players that dominate their receiving stats. Jack Sorenson, despite playing in just four games, leads the team in receptions, with 12, for 103 yards and a score. Dominique Robinson has the most yards, 184 on his nine catches. James Maye is a close second with 10 snags for 170 yards and Jalen Walker has seven for 135 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, DB Sterling Weatherford leads the team with 41 tackles and also has 2 TFL and an interception. Fellow defensive back Bart Baratti is third with 34 stops but he also has five TFL, 2.5 sacks (leads the team), and an interception.
Linebackers Myles Reid and Ryan McWood have combined for 71 tackles, four forced fumbles, 3.5 TFL, two QBH, two pass break-ups, a sack, and a fumble recovery.
I give the edge to NIU in most categories but, as we’ve seen from the Huskies, we’re not sure who’s going to show up. Will it be a 12 penalty team or one that can run and throw the ball effectively? We’ve seen both...sometimes in the same game (i.e Ball State).
For Miami, you know what you’re getting for the most part and I think the Huskie defense will be able to slow down/stop Gabbert and company.
If the Huskies don’t shoot themselves in the foot with penalties and turnovers, they should be able to get the victory here. It might be close and it might not be pretty but I have the Huskies claiming the victory.
NIU Huskies - 38
Miami RedHawks - 28