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at Northern Illinois 40 … Kent State 10

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 8, 2011


Week 6 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Kent State at Northern Illinois


2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 6 - Kent State at NIU

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Oct. 8 at Northern Illinois 40 … Kent State 10
CFN Analysis: The defense was phenomenal. Kent State might not have any semblance of an offense, but the D allowed just 70 yards as the Huskies came up with seven sacks and didn’t allow QB Spencer Keith a chance to breathe. It wasn’t a dominant game from the offense, but Chandler Harnish completing 12-of-15 passes for 113 yards and a score, and the running game got production from several parts, including 65 yards from Harnish. After the debacle against Central Michigan, the Huskies needed a game like this, but the O has to be back to 2010 form in a hurry with Western Michigan coming up next. The MAC West is still there for the taking, but this win over the Golden Flashes can’t be an aberration.

The offense went from bad to worse, and it’s all because of an offensive line that’s not giving the skill players a chance to breathe. Last in the nation in yards and last in scoring, KSU has scored just 39 points in five FBS games with no passing game down the field and nothing to count on consistently. With three home games in a road and four in the next five, it’s time to find something that works down the stretch and going into next year. The defense is doing what it can, but the pass rush isn’t anywhere near at the same level as it was last year and the D isn’t nearly disruptive enough.

(AP) DeKALB, Ill. -- Northern Illinois' defense allowed just 70 yards and recorded seven sacks as the Huskies defeated Kent State 40-10 on Saturday.

Chandler Harnish was 12 of 15 passing for 113 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 65 yards and a TD on 11 carries for the Huskies (3-3, 1-1 MAC).

Kent State (1-5, 0-2) had three turnovers, including an interception that NIU's Nabal Jefferson returned 25 yards for a touchdown.

Huskies kicker Mathew Sims made all four of his field goal attempts, connecting from 25, 31, 44 and 34 yards.

Kent State (1-4) at Northern Illinois (2-3) Oct. 8, 3:30,

Here’s The Deal … Though both of these two teams come in with losing records, the two programs are at two polar ends of the MAC evolutionary chain. Kent State is a struggling program still looking for a new direction with Darrell Hazell at the healm, while NIU is the model program that it wants to become. Both teams are coming off of a loss in their first MAC conference game of the year. Another one by either team would take them squarely out of a shot at doing big things in the conference. The two have collided 22 times with NIU not surprisingly holding the edge 15-7, and looking to build on a streak of four straight victories. Kent State will be looking to start a streak of its own.

Why Kent State Might Win: Steady improvement. Kent State came into the year simply looking for progress, and that’s exactly what they’ve gotten. After getting smoked by Alabama and Kansas State on the road as expected, the Golden Flashes have been able to turn it around by beating South Alabama, and hanging in there against a very good Ohio Bobcat team.

Though the KSU offense won’t strike fear in anyone, NIU has been absolutely miserable on the defensive side of the ball, basically allowing teams to run at will (119th against the run). With the improvement that Kent State has steadily shown, and the highway that Northern Illinois has paved for its opponents, there is reason to believe that the Golden Flashes will have some decent success chewing up some real estate on the ground and keeping the ball away from the point a minute offense that the Huskies throw out there.

Why Northern Illinois Might Win: NIU has a dynamic offense, putting up over 460 yards of offense on average per game. It’s not like the Huskies are one dimensional either. They are 20th in rushing offense, and a respectable 48th in the nation passing, meaning they can kill your game plan either way. It just won’t be realistic to expect the Golden Flashes to be able to consistently stymie the offensive firepower that the Huskies will roll out there. If that’s not enough.....

The Kent State offense ranks as one of the worst in the country. It is literally dead last in total offense and scoring. That means no matter what type of defense the opposition has, the Golden Flashes are going to be swimming upstream all day. The only realistic way that Kent State will put up enough scores to stay competitive against NIU is to force some turnovers or have a few big plays on special teams. That’s just too much hope to rely on with the weapons that the Huskies have. Northern Illinois is going to score, and there are no signs pointing to KSU being able to keep up.

What To Watch Out For: It’s been amazing how bad the Kent State offense has been.Will the woeful display continue against Northern Illinois or will things continue to spiral down to the abyss of futility? For all of the improvement the KSU defense has shown with the DE stud Roosevelt Nix, and the emergence of freshman LB C.J. Malauulu, the Golden Flashes will never stand a chance to do anything in the conference if they can’t get things turned around quickly on offense. Especially in this game.

For NIU, it needs to improve on the other side of the ball if it wants to have a legitimate shot at contending again for the MAC West title. There is no doubt that the combination of Chandler Harnish passing and Jasmine Hopkins doing his thing on the ground will be hard to contain, but as the defense goes, so too does the Huskies’ season. Things will probably look much better against a poorer than poor Golden Flash offense, but will it continue? The defense needs to garner some confidence in this game and use it as a catalyst towards improvement throughout the year. Northern Illinois’ MAC life depends on it.

What Will Happen: The Golden Flashes are just to stagnant on offense to expect any kind of hope for an upset in this one. As below average as the Huskies’ defense has looked so far this season, it will be just fine against the struggling Kent State offense. Kent State will try to run the ball and play keep away from the dynamic offense of NIU, but it just doesn’t have the horses. The KSU defense is good enough to slow down the Husky attack somewhat, but it won’t be nearly enough, nor consistent enough. This one will get away from Kent State in a Golden Flash.

CFN Prediction: Northern Illinois 31 … Kent State 17
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Northern Illinois -16.5  O/U: 52


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