Northern Illinois Huskies Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

Northern Illinois College Football Preview 2022: Team breakdown, season prediction, keys to the campaign, and what you need to know

Northern Illinois Huskies Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Northern Illinois season with what you need to know and keys to the season.


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Northern Illinois Huskies Preview
Thomas Hammock 4th year at Northern Illinois, 14-18
2021 Preview: Overall: 9-5, Conference: 6-2
Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Northern Illinois Top 10 Players | NIU Schedule

Northern Illinois Huskies Preview 2022

Never underestimate the MAC going MAC.

No other conference has a history of going from zero to hero on a regular basis more. It was Northern Illinois’ turn.

The 2018 MAC champion program had two straight dud seasons, bottoming out with an 0-6 run in 2020 with nothing happening on defense.

Head coach Thomas Hammock used that as a true rebuild season.

The 2022 version shocked Georgia Tech to start the season, pushed through a slew of tight battles to get to the MAC Championship, won it, and lost a thriller of a Cure Bowl to Coastal Carolina.

Now it’s up to the Huskies to start making things easier on themselves.

It takes a great team to win the tight ones, but seven of the nine wins were by a touchdown or less. Give NIU credit for closing, but  there’s a fine line between all the big things last year’s team did, and being an also-ran in the MAC.

With nine starters expected back on offense, seven likely back on defense, and a decent kicking game all in place, Northern Illinois isn’t likely to go back.

Northern Illinois Huskies Preview 2022: Offense

Running game, running game, running game. Of course the team with Thomas Hammock as the head coach would be able to run, and Northern Illinois did just that finished fourth in the nation averaging 241 yards per game behind a great line that was great for the ground game and dominant in pass protection. But …

Leading rusher Jay Ducker is off to Memphis. He accounted for close to 1,200 yards and three scores, and also got is FB Clint Ratkovich pounded for 13 scores.

Harrison Waylee was second on the team with 574 yards and four scores, and Antario Brown hammered away for close to seven yards per carry and five scores on his 538 yards.

They’ll all work behind a loaded offensive line led by all-star guard Logan Zschernitz and tackle Nolan Potter on the right side. The ground game will also get help from …

Rocky Lombardi is back quarterback. The former Michigan State Spartan is okay throwing it, but he’s a tough baller who ran for over five yards per carry with 472 yards and nine scores. On the way to help is Temple transfer Justin Lynch in a backup role.

The receiving corps is strong with three of the top four targets back. Second Team All-MAC deep threat Trayvon Rudolph is the biggest playmaker, Cole Tucker is a great veteran who grew into the job last year, and coming in is Shemar Thornton from FIU. TE Miles Joiner is a proven midrange target.

Northern Illinois Huskies Preview 2022: Defense

The defense was awful in the winless 2020, and it wasn’t any better last year. The Huskies finished 115th in the nation in total defense. was miserable against the run, couldn’t come up with takeaways, and allowed 34 points per game.

In a the-food-was-bad-but-the-portions-were-huge sort of way, but to be fair, this was a YOUNG group. 15 of the top 20 tacklers were freshmen and two others were sophomores.

The pass rush was lacking, but there are options. It’s a big front four with 273-pound Devonte O’Malley – he plays inside or out – leading the way with four sacks and sophomore James Ester a second-team All-MAC performer at one tackle.

The linebacking corps gets back All-MAC-caliber Kyle Pugh – for his eighth year with the program after missing all of last year hurt. He’ll work on the outside with third-leading tackler Nick Rattin settling into the middle spot. Also coming in is Izayah Green-May from Wisconsin for the rotation.

The secondary went WAY young, and now it has some potential ballers. Safety CJ Brown led the team with 108 stops, Jordan Hansen came up with 58, and corner Jordan Gandy is a hitter on the outside. Coming up with more than three picks as a group would be nice.

Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Northern Illinois Top 10 Players | NIU Schedule

Northern Illinois Huskies: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT

Northern Illinois Huskies Top 10 Players: College Football Preview 2022

Who are the top 10 Northern Illinois players going into the 2022 college football season?

Northern Illinois Huskies Preview 2022: Who are the top 10 players going into the season?


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Northern Illinois Huskies Preview 
Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen | NIU Schedule 

College Football Rankings, Season Predictions: MAC Spring Version 2022

MAC college football rankings and predictions with realistic best and worst case records and quick analysis – the 2022 spring version.

MAC college football rankings and predictions with the realistic best and worst case records and quick analysis – the 2022 spring version.


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It’s the MAC. It’s the conference where worst-to-first is the norm, with 2020 winless Northern Illinois winning the MAC championship in 2021, everyone can beat anyone else, and Toledo will end up somewhere in the middle of it all.

It’s about as settled as the league has been in a long time with the strength still in the West, Buffalo about to be better in the East, and with Akron and Bowling Green still questionable.

Again, though, it’s the MAC. The Zips or Falcons could end up in Detroit in January playing for the title.

The rankings are based on how good the teams should be and not the final projected records. Keeping in mind that this all could/might/will change when we make the final calls in August …

2022 College Football Schedules By Teams: All 131 Schools

Coastal Carolina vs Northern Illinois Cure Bowl 5 Thoughts, Instant Reaction, Final Score

5 Thoughts and Instant Reaction to Coastal Carolina’s Cure Bowl win over Northern Illinois.

Coastal Carolina vs Northern Illinois. 5 thoughts and instant reaction after the 47-41 win by the Chanticleers in the Cure Bowl.


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Coastal Carolina 47, Northern Illinois 41: Tailgreeter Cure Bowl

5. Let’s start with the end

For those who didn’t see it, down 47-41 in the final moments, Northern Illinois was deep in Coastal Carolina territory with time winding down. On 4th and 1, QB Rocky Lombardi connected with Miles Joiner for a four-yard play, Joiner hit the ground and the ball fell out of bounds.

It was ruled a catch, the officials weren’t sure, they got the ball to the line as the clock kept rolling, and Northern Illinois didn’t get another snap when it probably should’ve had one last-gasp tick on the final play.

Maybe.

It was all messed up, but even with the sloppy ending it was still a fantastic game.

4. It was a great showcase for both conferences

The star of the MAC this season showed off what life is going to be like under Thomas Hammock going forward.

The Northern Illinois program went from winless last year, to the conference championship, to within a tick of a huge bowl victory. It did it by being physical, tough, and with runners who kept working their way down the field. It was a power win by the MAC’s power team.

Coastal Carolina showed off just how fun the Sun Belt is. This was the offense and the team everyone fell in love with last year, and this win proved the program is going to keep on rolling.

It was the best of what both Group of Five conferences can be.

3. Northern Illinois was terrific … on offense

A 12-point underdog, the MAC Champion was totally disrespected – and it played like it from the start.

Yeah, the Coastal Carolina offense ripped through the Huskie defense without a problem, but the other side of the ball was dominant.

NIU had the ball for close to 40 minutes, it blasted away for a physical 335 yards, and it wore down the Coastal Carolina defense as the game went on. But again, the NIU defense just couldn’t come up with that one big stop late, and the game’s lone turnover – a fumble by Lombardi after a great run – turned out to be the one blink between the two sides.


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2. Coastal Carolina was terrific … on offense

The second half of the season was a grind for the Chanticleers.

Star QB Grayson McCall was banged up, there were a slew of tough battles, and the team that was supposed to roll to a Sun Belt championship struggled to get here.

Forget about controlling the clock – Coastal Carolina came up with huge play after huge play, averaging eight yards per carry and 10.5 yards per throw.

All of the stars came out. McCall threw for 315 yards and four scores, TE Isaiah Likely caught seven passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns, Braydon Bennett ran for 108 yards and two scores and caught four passes for 47 yards and a touchdown …

514 yards later, Coastal Carolina got its 11th win of the season.

1. Now THAT’S what you want an early bowl to be

Over 1,000 yards of total offense, big plays, a relatively clean game – outside of a key Northern Illinois fumble – and both teams doing what they do best. It was a whole lot of fun, there were a whole slew of big moments, and the two teams played like they really, really wanted to win – because they did.

It was Coastal Carolina’s first ever bowl win, it was a game for Northern Illinois to use as motivation all offseason, and it was pure bowl game entertainment to get the bowl season rolling.

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Coastal Carolina vs Northern Illinois: Tailgreeter Cure Bowl Prediction, Game Preview

Coastal Carolina vs Northern Illinois: Tailgreeter Cure Bowl prediction, game preview, how to watch, lines, and why each team might or might not win

Coastal Carolina vs Northern Illinois: Tailgreeter Cure Bowl prediction, game preview, how to watch: Saturday, December 18 


Coastal Carolina vs Northern Illinois: Tailgreeter Cure Bowl How To Watch

Date: Saturday, December
Game Time: 6:00 ET
Venue: Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL
How To Watch: ESPN2, Live stream on ESPN+
Record: Coastal Carolina (10-2), Northern Illinois (9-4)

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Coastal Carolina vs Northern Illinois Tailgreeter Cure Bowl Preview

Be stunned if this isn’t among the best of the early bowls. Both Group of Five programs are coming off terrific campaigns, and both will be well motivated to close with a season-validating win.

This is all about the time of possession battle. Northern Illinois had the ball for over 33 minutes per game with the ground attack. Coastal Carolina had it for over 32 minutes with its quick hitting passing game.

Northern Illinois went from 0-6 in 2020 to the champion of the MAC in one year under head coach Thomas Hammock, getting the job done with a ball-control offense behind a tremendous offensive line and fantastic running game that finished fifth in the nation. Now this year’s breakthrough team has to hold down last year’s version.

Coastal Carolina played exactly like it was supposed to over the first half of the season, ripping through everyone with one of the nation’s most efficient attacks. It spreads out defenses, dominates on third downs – it led all of college football in passing efficiency and third down conversions – but two close losses by a total of five points ruined a repeat of the 2020 magic.

Why Coastal Carolina, Northern Illinois Will Win
Prediction, What’s Going To Happen, History
Tailgreeter Cure Bowl Top Players To Know

NEXT: Why Coastal Carolina Will Win, Why Northern Illinois Will Win, Tailgreeter Cure Bowl Prediction

MAC Championship: Kent State vs Northern Illinois Prediction, Game Preview

MAC Championship: Kent State vs Northern Illinois prediction, game preview, how to watch, lines, and why each team might – or might not – win on Saturday.

MAC Championship: Kent State vs Northern Illinois prediction, game preview, how to watch: Saturday, December 4


MAC Championship: Kent State vs Northern Illinois How To Watch

Date: Saturday, December 4
Game Time: 12:00 ET
Venue: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
How To Watch: ESPN
Record: Kent State (7-5), Northern Illinois (8-4)
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MAC Championship: Kent State vs Northern Illinois Game Preview


Why Kent State Will Win

The Kent State offense is going to do the Kent State offense thing.

It’s the No. 1 offense in the MAC – averaging 490 yards per game – with one of its most impressive performances coming in the 52-47 win over Northern Illinois in early November.

The FlashFast style goes a million miles per hour – time of possession means nothing to this team – with a tremendous balance and always at peak efficiency.

In the first go-round against the Huskies, the Golden Flashes came up with 360 rushing yards, and 322 yards through the air, and it all worked.

Northern Illinois does a whole lot of things right, but it doesn’t come up with takeaways – it’s dead last in America with just one pick – and Kent State is among the best teams going in turnover margin. As frenetic as this attack is, it doesn’t screw up.

Kent State has turned it over just ten times this season. It’s 1-5 when giving the ball away – eight of the ten giveaways game in the five losses – and it didn’t turn the ball over in any of the wins until the key victory over Miami University in the regular season finale to get here.

College Football Expert Picks, Championship Week

Why Northern Illinois Will Win

The Kent State defense is going to do the Kent State defense thing.

The Golden Flashes almost play defense like they want the other side to score just so the offense can get the ball back faster.

Kent State took Northern Illinois totally out of its game, and it still almost won.

In a perfect Huskie world it runs, runs some more, controls the game, and almost none of that happened in the first meeting with Rocky Lombardi throwing for 532 yards and three touchdowns.  However, NIU was still able to control the clock – keeping it for over 35 minutes.

Kent State just doesn’t stop the run. It allowed over 300 yards three times and over 200 yards to other times – it’s 1-4 when giving up 200 yards or more. Northern Illinois ran for 131 yards the first time around, and it’s about to pound up in this.

However …

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What’s Going To Happen

It would be better for Northern Illinois to play outside in the elements.

Kent State has shown it can rock on offense no matter what, but inside at Ford Field it’s going to be just a half-click quicker.

It’s all about which defense can hold serve, and Northern Illinois just doesn’t generate enough of a pass rush and doesn’t take the ball away.

They won’t combine for 1,345 yards of total O and 99 points like they did the first time around, but they won’t be far off.

College Football Schedule: Championship Week Predictions, Lines

MAC Championship: Kent State vs Northern Illinois Prediction, Lines

Kent State 41, Northern Illinois 37
Line: Kent State -3.5, o/u: 74
ATS Confidence out of 5: 2

Must See Rating: 4.5

5: The King’s Man
1: CMA Country Christmas

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Western Michigan vs Northern Illinois Prediction, Game Preview

Western Michigan vs Northern Illinois prediction, game preview, how to watch, lines, and why each team might – or might not – win this Tuesday.

Western Michigan vs Northern Illinois prediction, game preview, how to watch: Tuesday, November 23


Western Michigan vs Northern Illinois How To Watch

Date: Tuesday, November 23
Game Time: 7:00 ET
Venue: Huskies Stadium, DeKalb, IL
How To Watch: ESPNU
Record: Western Michigan (6-5), Northern Illinois (8-3)
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Western Michigan vs Northern Illinois Game Preview


Why Western Michigan Will Win

Really, how much does Northern Illinois care about this?

It has bigger fish to fry with whatever comes out of the East in the MAC Championship next week, and Western Michigan is looking to score a stronger bowl slot in the MAC pecking order.

The Broncos have been a massive disappointment – they’re the ones who were supposed to be going to Detroit next week – and lost three of their last four games to biff the shot.

However, the offense has been great – it cranked up close to 1,500 yards over the last three games and the defense is fantastic on third downs helped by a great pass rush.

Northern Illinois doesn’t generate a whole lot of pressure, but …

College Football Expert Picks, CFN Week 13

Why Northern Illinois Will Win

The offense has gone ballistic, averaging well over 500 yards per game over a four game stretch.

The passing attack rolled against Kent State – the one loss since dropping the date against Michigan in mid-September – and the ground attack just rumbled over Buffalo for over 300 yards.

What’s Western Michigan’s issue? It seems to change every week, but it’s been wildly inconsistent overall.

No, Northern Illinois doesn’t need this game, but …

What’s Going To Happen

It’s Senior Night. It’s a chance to make some noise on national TV, and it still needs to keep working considering the run defense has to be a whole lo better and the team has played with fire a bit too often.

The last seven games have been decided by a touchdown or less, and the Huskies have shown the strength to come through in six of them.

But there’s going to be a letdown.

The Western Michigan running attack will take over in the fourth quarter to control the clock better than the Huskies will.

Again, Northern Illinois has bigger things to prepare for.

College Football Schedule: Week 13 Predictions, Lines

Western Michigan vs Northern Illinois Prediction, Lines

Western Michigan 41, Northern Illinois 34
Line: Western Michigan -3.5, o/u: 61
ATS Confidence out of 5: 2

Must See Rating: 3

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MAC Football Predictions, Schedule, Game Previews, Lines, How To Watch: Week 12

MAC Week 12 college football predictions, schedule, game previews, lines, how to watch, and TV listings. Toledo at Ohio, Western Michigan at Eastern Michigan, Bowling Green at Miami University, Northern Illinois at Buffalo, Central Michigan at Ball State, Kent State at Akron

MAC football predictions, schedule, game previews, lines, how to watch, and TV listings for Week 12 of the season.


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Click on each game for game preview & prediction

MAC Results So Far
SU: 67-19, ATS: 47-36, Point Total: 44-39-2

Tuesday, November 16

Toledo at Ohio

7:00, ESPN+
Line: Toledo -7, o/u: 54.5

Western Michigan at Eastern Michigan

7:30, ESPN2
Line: Western Michigan -5.5, o/u: 66

Bowling Green at Miami University

8:00, ESPNU
Line: Miami University -17, o/u: 51.5

Week 12 Schedule, Predictions, Game Times

Wednesday, November 17

Northern Illinois at Buffalo

7:00, ESPN2
Line: Northern Illinois -1.5, o/u: 62.5

Central Michigan at Ball State

7:00, ESPNU
Line: Ball State -1.5, o/u: 61

Saturday, November 20

Kent State at Akron

12:00, ESPN+
Line: Kent State -13.5, o/u: 75

College Football Expert Picks, CFN Week 12

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Northern Illinois vs Buffalo Prediction, Game Preview

Northern Illinois vs Buffalo prediction, game preview, how to watch, lines, and why each team might – or might not – win Wednesday night.

Northern Illinois vs Buffalo prediction, game preview, how to watch: Wednesday, November 17


Northern Illinois vs Buffalo How To Watch

Date: Wednesday, November 17
Game Time: 7:00 ET
Venue: UB Stadium, Buffalo, NY
How To Watch: ESPN2
Record: Northern Illinois (7-3), Buffalo (4-6)
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Northern Illinois vs Buffalo Game Preview


Why Northern Illinois Will Win

It’s right there for the taking. Win this, win the MAC West and go play for the conference championship.

The defense has been a tad sketchy over the last few weeks, but the offense has found the explosion through the air now that everyone has loaded up to stop the run.

Buffalo can’t stop any of it.

The Bulls are getting roasted through the air over the last two weeks – you’re doing something wrong if you’re getting blown up by Bowling Green and Miami University – but this should be about the run defense. UB gives up 200 yards per game on the ground with too much ease.

College Football Expert Picks, CFN Week 12

Why Buffalo Will Win

The Buffalo offense has to keep up at home.

It went bye-bye last week in the blowout loss to Miami University, but it rolled for close to 500 yards against Bowling Green after coming up with 454 against Akron.

Okay, so big days on those two might not seem like that bit a deal, but the Northern Illinois pass defense doesn’t make enough big things happen and the run D was rolled by Ball State and Kent State for over 600 yards over the last two weeks.

What’s Going To Happen

Can Buffalo keep its bowl hopes alive – it needs to win this and beat Ball State next week – all while making Northern Illinois work for the West? It’ll be up in the first half as it comes out smoking in the final home game of the season.

But the Huskies will get the passing game going in the second half as Rocky Lombardi stays hot after a fantastic last three weeks. The balance will kick in late with two big scoring drives to finally pull away.

College Football Schedule: Week 12 Predictions, Lines

Northern Illinois vs Buffalo Prediction, Lines

Northern Illinois 38, Buffalo 34
Line: Northern Illinois -1.5, o/u: 62.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 3

Must See Rating: 3

5: Tummyache Soak
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MAC Predictions, Schedule, Game Previews, Lines, How To Watch: Week 11

MAC Week 11 college football predictions, schedule, game previews, lines, how to watch, and TV listings.

MAC college football predictions, schedule, game previews, lines, how to watch, and TV listings for Week 11 of the season.


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Click on each game for game preview & prediction

MAC Results So Far
SU: 61-18, ATS: 42-35, Point Total: 40-37-2

Tuesday, November 9

Akron at Western Michigan

7:00, CBS Sports Network
Line: Western Michigan -26, o/u: 62

Buffalo at Miami University

7:00, ESPNU
Line: Miami University -7, o/u: 57.5

Ohio at Eastern Michigan

8:00, ESPN2
Line: Eastern Michigan -6, o/u: 60.5

College Football Schedule, Predictions, Game Previews, Week 11

Wednesday, November 10

Ball State at Northern Illinois

7:00, ESPN2
Prediction: Northern Illinois 30, Ball State 27
Line: Ball State -2.5, o/u: 62.5

Toledo at Bowling Green

7:00, CBS Sports Network
Prediction: Toledo 41, Bowling Green 24
Line: Toledo -10.5, o/u: 50.5

Kent State at Central Michigan

8:00, ESPNU
Prediction: Central Michigan 41, Kent State 37
Line: Central Michigan -2.5, o/u: 74.5

College Football Expert Picks, CFN Week 11

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