The Central Michigan Life football reporters weigh in on their expectations for this week’s matchup between the Central Michigan Chippewas (2-1) and Northern Illinois Huskies (3-1) Saturday at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, Ill.
Last week’s win at Iowa was monumental for CMU, but it will be faced with maybe an even tougher challenge this week. Northern Illinois is 3-1 with its only loss coming to Iowa. The reigning MAC West champions have won 17 straight at home and feature the top passing defense in the MAC. And let’s not forget, they will be looking for revenge after the Chippewas handed them their only conference loss a season ago. CMU will keep it close, but NIU will prevail. Prediction: CMU 24, NIU 34.
The Northern Illinois offense is potent, and it showed with 17 fourth-quarter points to beat Kansas last week. CMU’s Ryan Radcliff was poised, accurate and turnover-free last week at Iowa. I think for the second consecutive season it will be very high scoring. NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch has turned the ball over, and the CMU defense has been more aggressive with blitzes and playing a man coverage behind it. Two late turnovers from Lynch will allow CMU to break the 17-game home win streak. Prediction: CMU 45, NIU 41.
As big as last week’s win in Iowa City was for the Chippewas, this weekend’s game against Northern Illinois is probably bigger. The conference opener for both teams will most likely be a high-scoring game. The Chippewas must contain NIU junior quarterback Jordan Lynch, who is in the top-10 in the conference in rushing and passing. The Huskies also boast the top pass defense in the MAC, which means junior running back Zurlon Tipton and the Chippewa offensive line must have a big game. I think the Chippewas will battle but lose a close one on the road in a barn burner. Prediction: CMU 28, NIU 35.
Quarterback Jordan Lynch has impressed in his first season as starter, leading the Huskies in passing and rushing yards. CMU has faced some tough backs this season in Le’Veon Bell and Mark Weisman, but will have to focus more on a strong passer this week. NIU has a strong pass defense, but has allowed more than 180 rush yards to all three FBS teams it’s seen this season. Expect Zurlon Tipton and Anthony Garland to have big days and last week’s success to calm quarterback Ryan Radcliff. Prediction: CMU 34, NIU 31.