Preview 2017: Northern Illinois Needs A Break

Preview 2017: Northern Illinois Needs A Break

Teams & Conferences

Preview 2017: Northern Illinois Needs A Break

Preview 2017: Northern Illinois Needs A Break


After missing out on playing for the MAC championship for the first time in a long, long time, Northern Illinois needs a break.


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2017 Northern Illinois Preview: What You Need To Know
2017 Northern Illinois Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Northern Illinois Previews: 2016 | 2015

When it comes to down years, it’s possible to do a whole lot worse.

Northern Illinois is only a year removed from winning the MAC West and playing in its sixth straight conference title game. With a little bit of a break – and maybe some luck – it’s possible to bounce right back.

So you think one bad season is going to really be the end of a powerhouse?

The program – in a perfect world – would like to be in the hunt for a bigger conference and a bigger payday, so it doesn’t have to take on the paycheck games like the one it signed on for against Florida State in 2018.

In a dream world, the Big 12 would wake up and realize it might like the greater Chicagoland market, but for the moment, NIU would simply like the state of Illinois to figure out its own budget issues so there’s more money for other parts of the school and the programs.

Or, simply getting a full year out of a healthy starting quarterback would be a nice way to get back to MAC prominence.

Every team has to go through a variety of issues, but NIU hasn’t had any luck whatsoever when it comes to its QBs staying in one piece, getting to the MAC title game despite playing three different signal callers in 2015, and last year falling short with four guys getting a turn.

But the passing game was just fine in the loss to FCSer Western Illinois – it was the secondary that let the team down.

The Huskies threw for 329 yards and three scores in the roughly weird season-opening loss to Wyoming, and they got great quarterback play at times throughout the year, but there wasn’t any consistency.

It was Western Michigan’s year, Toledo was better, and as it turned out, with the possible exception of that loss to a Western Illinois team that finished with a winning record, all seven losses were more than acceptable.

The other six losses came to teams that went bowling, including both combatants in the Mountain West title game (San Diego State and Wyoming), the MAC champ (Western Michigan) and a South Florida team that was probably the best in the American Athletic Conference, but didn’t get to its title game.

But there can’t be any excuses for a team that’s been able to find a way time and again to get the job done.

This year, at the very least, there’s experience at quarterback – there’s something positive coming away from the problems over the last few years.

The offensive line – NIU’s staple over the years – might be the best in the conference, but the skill players need more playmakers after losing the stars.

But to beat the dead horse, as long as the QB play is fine, everything else should work.

The defense won’t be dominant, but the secondary gets everyone back, including all-star corner Shawun Lurry. The front seven has to replace some key linebackers and has to work at tackle up front, but overall, the D should be good enough to hold its own.

It might have been a quick downturn, but NIU has the pieces in place to bounce right back again.

But for the program that found ways to make its own breaks, it’s overdue to get a few more. With a little bit of luck, 2016 was just a hiccup.

2017 Northern Illinois Preview: What You Need To Know
2017 Northern Illinois Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Northern Illinois Previews: 2016 | 2015

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