Northern Illinois Prediction: What’s Going To Happen
In a relatively down year for the MAC West – at least compared to last season – this is when NIU rises back up
There might be funky games here and there – going to Ball State, for example – but the talent and experience are in place for the Huskies to rise up and be special enough to at least get back to the MAC title game for the first time since 2015.
The starters have to stay in one piece, though. The offense can’t go back to the days of rotating quarterbacks, and the line has to dominate like it did back when the program was a given in the conference championship.
The D might not be quite the killer in the backfield it was last season, but it won’t be far off. There are still some major concerns – more plays from the corners, the new starting linebackers have to rise up, Sutton Smith can’t be a one-year wonder – but again, it’s a rebuilding year for the West. At least, it is for most of the better programs, and not for NIU.
Guessing The Preseason Regular Season Win Total Will Be Set At … 7
There probably won’t be a Nebraska shocker like last season, but if the Huskies can somehow be good enough to win one of the three early non-conference dates against Iowa, Utah or Florida State – the MAC is in trouble.
Going to Eastern Michigan, Ball State and Akron won’t be easy, but the Huskies should be able to take down those three, and get past Miami University and Central Michigan at home, too.
Assume a sure-thing base of five wins, and then take two of three against Ohio, Toledo and at Western Michigan. Throw in a curveball win over a BYU on the road, and NIU will flirt with ten wins before going off to a bowl.