Iowa vs. Northern Illinois fearless prediction and game preview.
Date: Saturday, September 1
Game Time: 3:30 pm ET
Venue: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
Iowa (0-0) vs. Northern Illinois (0-0) Game Preview
Back in 2013, Iowa came up with a solid season complete with a great second half run and a trip to the Outback Bowl. But it started out the season with a stunning loss to Northern Illinois, who went 12-0 before collapsing in the end.
This year’s NIU team isn’t that NIU team, but it’s going to be good enough to win the MAC championship, and it’s more than strong enough to pull off the upset.
The Huskies shocked Nebraska last season and should’ve beaten Boston College. This season, they have a legitimate shot to beat the Hawkeyes, and then they get Utah at home. Throw in the date at Florida State, and this could either be the type of unbelievable start that could lead to something massive, or could be a 1-3 kickoff before getting into the meat of the MAC slate.
With Iowa State coming up, and then the always feisty just-get-through-it game against Northern Iowa, and then Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes can’t afford a biff to kick things off.
One Reason Why Northern Illinois Will Win
Why can’t most MAC teams hang with the P-Fivers? The lines – they don’t have the talent. That’s not a problem for the 2018 Huskies.
If the offensive front isn’t the best in the FBS, it’s No. 1A with the entire front five back starting with all-star tackle Max Scharping and fellow All-MAC guard Jordan Steckler. Losing Brady Reiff for the season opener – he was suspended – doesn’t help on the Hawkeye defensive front.
It also doesn’t help that the offensive line loses some key parts, too. James Daniels is gone to the Chicago Bears, Alaric Jackson is suspended for the dreaded violation of team rules, and Tristan Wirfs is out, too.
With a devastating pass rush starting with All-American Sutton Smith, NIU should be able to do some damage with its defensive front.
One Reason Why Iowa Will Win
Iowa might have some big losses on the offensive front, but it still has to pound away, and it still has to get the short passing game going.
The Huskie linebacking corps lost Bobby Jones to graduation and Jawuan Johnson to TCU as part of a wholesale change to the unit. The secondary should be okay, but it lost top guy Shawun Lurry at safety. The big issue? The corners had a problem picking off passes.
This is where Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley has to be the man. He needs to command the offense from the start, get the ball out of his hands early, and make the right decisions under pressure from the NIU line. The backs are there to help him out, but the rotation needs to be great right away. The Hawkeyes don’t have to be explosive, but they need to be balanced.
What’s Going To Happen
It’s going to be a long, long four quarter game for an Iowa team that can’t screw up.
Northern Illinois is strong enough and sharp enough in all areas to pull off the upset if the suspensions on the Iowa line are a problem. On the plus side for the Hawkeyes, they’ve had enough time in advance to deal with the lost starters to be ready on Day One without all of their parts.
Iowa will finally get the job done in the fourth quarter thanks to a defense that will clamp down on the late key drives, but it’ll have to sweat it out.
Fearless Prediction & Line
Iowa 26, Northern Illinois 17
Line: Iowa -9.5, o/u: 48.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 3.5
Must See Rating: 3
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