Get the best handicapping articles and gambling advice throughout the football, basketball and baseball seasons from the world's top sports handicappers, as well as from Bovada (Bodog) Sportsbook and Casino.
Northern Illinois Football Preview
by Matt Fargo - 08/11/2008
No. 101 Northern Illinois Huskies
2007 Record ~ 2-10 SU ~ 5-6 ATS
Starters Returning ~ Offense (8) Defense (10)
A lot of things went wrong in DeKalb last season and Northern Illinois suffered its worst season in quite some time. Win totals have not improved over the last five years and last seasonâ€™s two victories were the lowest since 1998. Out went Joe Novak to retirement and in comes Jerry Kill who turned around the Southern Illinois program and was named the FCS Coach of the Year last season. He is not coming into a bare cupboard but it certainly is not going to be easy to bring the program back to the top of the MAC in his first year.
Offensively, the Huskies have always been blessed with a strong running game and a stud rusher leading the way. Last year was no different as Justin Anderson put up 1,245 yards as a sophomore. He torn his PCL in the final game but is expected back at 100 percent although his production may decrease due to a new offensive system being put into place. Kill is bring in a version of the Boise St. style and that means it will be up to senior quarterback Dan Nicholson to run the offense, if he can remain healthy that is.
Defensively, Northern Illinois took a big step back as it allowed 30.8 ppg, the most since that 1998 season. As is the case with most big dropoffs, injuries played a big part in the problems that arose last season. One thing is for sure and that is defensive end Larry English will dominate once again. He has 22.5 sacks over the last two seasons and his 10.5 sacks a year ago came during many double-teams. The rushing defense finished 111th last year and that will have to get much better for a drastic overall improvement.
The schedule is tougher this season as four of the first five games are on the road. A 1-4 start is possible and with that, the confidence can be lost for the season. This includes games at Minnesota and Tennessee as well as a game at MAC West contender Western Michigan. If the towel is not thrown in early, there are some possibilities for wins on the back end of the slate, namely home games against Toledo, Bowling Green and Navy. The Huskies are worth a look however as expectations are low meaning good line value.