Utah vs. Northern Illinois fearless prediction and game preview.
Utah vs. Northern Illinois Broadcast
Date: Saturday, September 7
Game Time: 1:00 ET
Venue: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT
Network: Pac-12 Network
Utah (1-0) vs. Northern Illinois (1-0) Game Preview
Why Northern Illinois Will Win
The NIU passing game got a chance to get it all going in the 24-10 win over Illinois State.
This is going to be a running team under new head coach Thomas Hammock, but it was Cal transfer Ross Bowers who made the biggest splash in the opener. It wasn’t the sharpest performance overall for the team – it needed to score late to put this away – but Bowers threw for close to 300 yards and created a downfield passing game missing over the last few seasons.
On the other side, Utah might have enjoyed a 13-of-16 day from Tyler Huntley, but there wasn’t much happening down the field in the win over BYU. The NIU defensive line didn’t turn it loose in the backfield, but it has enough nice parts overall on defense to be solid when the Utes had to throw. The Huskies were, and should be, great on third downs.
Why Utah Will Win
The Utah defensive front is among the best in the nation, and it’s about to beat up an NIU running game that didn’t show up against Illinois State. Now it’s going to be in big, big trouble.
BYU was suffocated last week by the Ute D. The Utah intensity won’t be there like it was against the Cougars, but this group is a killer in the backfield and going to be amazing against the run all season long. Bowers won’t have any room to move, and forget about anything steady on the ground.
Either this will be a low-scoring slugfest, or Utah can put this away fast – NIU won’t be able to bounce back if it gets down fast. The Huskie passing game firepower worked against Illinois State, but that’s not happening against this amazing D.
What’s Going To Happen
It’s amazing what happens when the stars return in the backfield. Utah might not have thrown much against BYU, but Huntley was good, Zack Moss and his 187 yards were great, and it’s all going to continue.
Northern Illinois won’t be able to generate enough pressure to bother Huntley, but it’ll take a while before Utah puts this away. Expect a whole lot of good defense, and expect Utah’s to be a whole lot stronger, especially on third downs.
Expect this to look a whole lot like last year’s 17-6 Utah win in DeKalb.
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Utah vs. Northern Illinois Prediction, Line
Utah 38, Northern Illinois 12
Line: Utah -22.5, o/u: 42.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 2.5
Must See Rating: 2
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