Central Michigan vs. Northern Illinois prediction and game preview. Projecting who will win the MAC battle between the Chippewas and Huskies.
Central Michigan vs. Northern Illinois Game Preview
When: Saturday, Oct. 15 – 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Huskie Stadium, DeKalb, Ill.
TV Broadcast: ESPN3
Central Michigan has played three tough games in a row, and it finally came out with a victory last week. Following losses to Virginia and Western Michigan, the Chippewas held on to beat Ball State, 24-21, in a game where both teams went scoreless for the final 11 1/2 minutes. Quarterback Cooper Rush had another solid performance, but it was running back Devon Spalding who had a breakout effort.
Anthony Maddie has been impressive for Northern Illinois since the former third-string quarterback took over, and the Huskies are hoping it translates to more wins. Maddie threw for 224 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 111 and another score, but NIU fell 45-30 to Western Michigan last week.
What to Know About Central Michigan
Rush is second in the MAC with an average of 301 passing yards per game and tied for second with 15 touchdown passes. The Chippewas rely heavily on him for offense considering he leads the conference with 208 attempts. The running game came through last week, though, as Spalding rushed 23 times for 157 yards and a touchdown. CMU still will center its plan around Rush, but the Huskies will need to be aware of the potential for yards out of the backfield as well.
Defensively, the Chippewas were much better against Ball State after giving up 49 points in back-to-back games. They’ve been inconsistent on that side of the ball, and if NIU can get the ball moving this could turn into a high-scoring affair.
What to Know About Northern Illinois
Maddie has sparked the Huskies’ offense since taking over midway through the loss to Western Illinois three weeks ago. They’re averaging 563 yards over their last three after an average of 382.7 through their first three. Maddie has accounted for nearly 1,000 yards and six touchdowns while helping lead NIU to its only win two weeks ago.
The struggles are still there defensively, though. The Huskies rank 11th in the 12-team MAC in total defense allowing an average of 499.3 yards per game and 6.4 yards per play. Everyone opponent has gone over 400 yards.
Offense: Central Michigan – Rush will be going up against an NIU pass defense that ranks 10th in the conference.
Defense: Central Michigan – The Huskies are going to run, and the Chippewas are third in the MAC in stopping it.
Special Teams: Even – NIU is 6 for 10 on field goals, and CMU is 3 for 7.
Coaching: Even – Northern Illinois’ Rod Carey has had plenty of success the last few years, but Central’s John Bonamego has the better team this season.
Intangibles: Central Michigan – Rush threw two touchdown passes in last year’s 29-19 win over the Huskies.
Matchup To Watch
Rush vs. NIU’s pass defense
If Rush is on and begins having his way with the Huskies’ D, this one could get ugly. NIU has allowed three 300-yard passers while surrendering 13 touchdowns through the air.
Spread: Central Michigan -2.5
Central Michigan vs. Northern Illinois Prediction
Rush and Maddie have a back-and-forth battle in a game that turns into a shootout. The Chippewas get the last score to come out on top.
Central Michigan vs. Northern Illinois final score prediction: Central Michigan 45, Northern Illinois 42