at Central Michigan 48 ... N. Illinois 41
Posted Oct 1, 2011

Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Northern Illinois at Central Michigan

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 5 - NIU at Central Michigan

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Oct. 1 at Central Michigan 48 ... Northern Illinois 41
CFN Analysis: There's the Central Michigan offense that's been missing ever since Dan Enos took over. Ryan Radcliff started bombing, and while he did his share of short-to-midrange throws, he was at his best on the deep ball throwing for 387 yards and four scores with big play after big play. The defense did its part for three quarters, and even though NIU staged a furious rally, it was all cosmetic. CMU took the early lead and never let it go the rest of the way because the O came out of its shell. Expect more of the same from here on. It might not always work, and there's no consistent running game to take the heat off, even with the 176 yards this week, but Radcliff will be doing more and more.

NIU slept through the first quarter and it couldn't catch up. The run defense has been a nightmare all season long, but this loss is on a secondary that couldn't come up with a stop, and a pass rush that hasn't shown up all year long. Chandler Harnish was Chandler Harnish, throwing for 370 yards and two scores, while running for 92 yards and a touchdown, but the offense wasn't the issue. CMU got way too much time to work and Ryan Radcliff got too much time to let the deep plays develop, and NIU couldn't come up with the key stop. Kent State won't be a problem next week, but if NIU has any hope of being in the MAC title race, it had better be prepared for another shootout in two weeks against Western Michigan.

(AP) MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. -- Ryan Radcliff threw for 387 yards and four long touchdowns, Paris Cotton added 110 yards and a score on the ground, and Central Michigan escaped with a wild 48-41 victory Saturday over Northern Illinois.

Radcliff found Courtney Williams on a 79-yard strike in the first quarter as the Chippewas (2-3, 1-1 Mid-American Conference) built a 17-0 lead. He hit Cotton for a 43-yard score early in the third and a 46-yarder in the fourth, then hooked up with David Blackburn from 61 yards out.

The Huskies (2-3, 0-1) scored three times late to get within a touchdown and recovered an onside kick with 19 seconds left. But Jahleel Addae intercepted Chandler Harnish's third-down pass as time expired to seal the win.

Harnish finished with 370 yards passing, two touchdowns and two interceptions by Addae, plus 92 yards rushing and a score. Jasmin Hopkins ran for 95 yards and a touchdown.

Northern Illinois (2-2) at Central Michigan (2-2) Saturday, Oct. 1, 3:30, ESPN3

Here's The Deal … It's the MAC opener for Northern Illinois, and number two for a Central Michigan coming off an absolute boat racing by in-state rival Western Michigan to open conference season. After the pasting the Chippewas took from Michigan State last weekend, they need this for their psyche as much as anything. The MAC lacks a slew of bowl bids, and ever win is at a premium. Coach Dan Enos isn't on the hot seat yet, but his tenure hasn't exactly taken off through little fault of his own. He picked up shop right after Butch Jones left the most successful period of CMU football behind, and now Enos needs a big win of his own to get things on the right track NIU throttled CMU last season 33-7, and now new head coach Dave Doeren is looking for his first MAC win. He has a good enough team to win the MAC championship, but his Huskies can't blow the opener.

Why NIU Might Win: It starts with having the best player on the field in quarterback Chandler Harnish, setting the record for total touchdowns by an NIU player last weekend with 67. A multi-tool threat playmaker with 285 rushing yards ,good for second best on the team, he's a special player who can beat the Chippewas by himself. An equal opportunity spreader of the ball, he's in total command of the passing game and should be able to carve up the mediocre CMU secondary. Both of his leading receivers, Perez Ashford and Nathan Palmer have 15 catches on the year, and they're each good enough take over the passing game for stretches. The Chippewa defense doesn't have any answers.

Why Central Michigan Might Win: The NIU defense hasn't shown up yet, giving up over 25 points in all four games including 30 last week to Cal-Poly. CMU's offense hasn't exactly been sharp, but quarterback Ryan Radcliff won't be afraid to push the ball down the field a bit. CMU's top two runners average fewer than four yards per carry, and Radcliff is hovering around a 50% completion rate, but NIU is getting gouged by everyone. Radcliff will need to find Cody Wilson, CMU's standout junior receiver, who has just enough quickness and experience to get the ball on quick hits on midrange passes through the Huskie second. Though the team lacks a game breaker, Wilson is the closest they have, but this week there should be several big plays from several areas.

What To Watch Out For: Harnish ran into a buzzsaw against Wisconsin, but he's still one of the best players in the MAC and he's back on track. His legs make him a dual threat playmaker who ripped off 118 yards last week against Cal Poly and completed 18-of-21 passes for 187 yards and two scores. He wasn't needed to do much in last year's 33-7 win over CMU, throwing for 138 yards, but he'll have to do more with his arm this season with more responsibility on his shoulders.

What Will Happen: Harnish will have a field day against a Chippewa defense that won't be able to get to him, and is coming off getting clobbered against WMU two weeks ago. NIU will give up some points, but it has too much firepower on offense and too many weapons to let the sputtering Chippewas to pull off the upset.

CFN Prediction: Northern Illinois 47 ... Central Michigan 27
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Northern Illinois -9   O/U: 59

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