Week 4 - Kansas at Northern Illinois

Posted Sep 21, 2012

Week 4 CFN Fearless Prediction – Kansas at Northern Illinois

Kansas (1-2) at Northern Illinois (2-1) Sept. 22, 3:30, ESPN3

Here's The Deal: How did Kansas beat Northern Illinois last season? The Huskies came up with a dominant 11-3 season with a MAC title, and while there was a puzzling loss to a bad Central Michigan team and an acceptable problem against Wisconsin, giving Kansas one of its two wins on the year is one of the hindsight shockers of 2011. But now things are a wee bit different.

Kansas has a new coaching staff that's trying to find its way, but still, that win over NIU was the last victory over an FBS team since November 6th of 2010. The offense isn't rolling, but the defense has quickly improved and the Jayhawks have been competitive, but that's not nearly enough with losses to Rice and TCU. With Big 12 play continuing at Kansas State next, this might be the last reasonable chance to come up with a win that's not a shocker.

NIU isn't the powerhouse it was last season, but it's a late Iowa touchdown run away from starting out 3-0 and now has a reasonable shot to come up with a win over a BCS conference team before starting the MAC play against Central Michigan. Like Kansas, the offense isn't rocking, but he defense has been solid. And like KU, NIU is still building.

Why Kansas Might Win: Kansas isn't good enough to win without being way ahead in turnover margin. The Jayhawks have had problems hanging on to the ball with seven giveaways and at least two in each of the first three games, but the defense has been able to make up for it with a whopping 12 takeaways staring out with four picks against South Dakota Sate and coming up with four fumble recoveries against TCU last week. The Huskies haven't been bad in turnovers with just six so far, but the defense isn't doing nearly enough with all three of its takeaways coming in the win over UT Martin.

Why Northern Illinois Might Win: Welcome to the NIU pass rush. The Huskies have been great at getting into the backfield, dominating Iowa to kick things off and doing a nice job of coming up with a few big plays against Army. Alan Baxter has a sack in each of the first three games leading the way, but the pressure is coming from all areas. Kansas has been decent in pass protection, but the passing game isn't doing anything with the time with no big plays happening down the field and the least-efficient passing attack among Big 12 teams.

What To Watch Out For: Sophomore Tony Pierson has done a nice job running the ball for the Jayhawks so far with 124 yards and two scores against SDSU and 120 yards against Rice, but it's going to help getting back James Sims from his three game suspension for violating team rules. The team's best offensive threat over the last two years, he'll help the attack and give Charlie Weis another weapon. NIU's offense found its star last week in quarterback Jordan Lynch, who ran for 125 yards and a score and threw for 342 yards and four scores in the wild win over Army. He has to control the game with his legs as well as his arm.

What Will Happen: Northern Illinois will get too much pressure up front and too strong a running game for KU to keep up. Dayne Crist will once again struggle to throw deep and the Huskies will tee off.

CFN Prediction: Northern Illinois 34 … Kansas 17
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Northern Illinois -9.5 O/U: 52.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ray Lewis: A Football Life, 1 – Frankenweenie): 2