WNUR Predictions: NIU vs Northwestern

WNUR’s staff predict’s Saturday’s game, but only Greg Mroz was correct in predicting a Cal win. Will everyone else get their first win as NU is looking for theirs?
Greg Mroz (1-0) (@wizard_of_mroz):Northwestern 27, Northern Illinois 20. NIU’s run game is the best unit on the field, but their inability to throw downfield will allow NU’s defense to put 8 in the box and load up against the run game. Siemian will play better against DBs with less speed. Player to Watch: Justin Jackson.

Nick Scoliard (0-1) (@NickScols): Northwestern 34, Northern Illinois 24. NU will come out looking for a fight after their loss to Cal, and their offense will begin to take more and more shape. A Jordan Lynch-less NIU won’t be the challenge that Cal seemed to be, so I expect NU to get their first win on Saturday. Player to Watch: Cameron Dickerson. With Tony Jones out for the next two games, the work load falls on Dickerson to lead the receiving corps into NU’s new pro-style offense.

Michael Stern (0-1) (@michaeljstern23): Northwestern 38, Northern Illinois 31. Northwestern put together a solid second half against Cal after being surprised by the Bears’ two-quarterback system in the second half. Northern Illinois runs a quick offense (they managed to get off 109 plays against Presbyterian), which could be trouble for a Wildcat defense that lacks depth. However, the NU offensive line should have a size advantage against the mid-major Huskies. This looks like a shoot-out to me, and I think the inexperienced Huskies (no more Jordan Lynch) make a fatal mistake. Player to watch: Tommylee Lewis, Northern Illinois. Lewis is the type of electrifying wideout Northwestern has had trouble stopping in the past, to the tune of 1,071 total yards last year. He also runs the ball on reverses and returns kickoffs. NU must contain NIU’s game breaker to keep momentum on their side.

Ari Ross (0-1) (@aross50):Northwestern 35-13. After last weeks debacle, I’d be picking just about any decent team against Northwestern, but Northern Illinois isn’t a decent team. Having lost Jordan Lynch, their star QB, to the NFL, NIU isn’t the MAC powerhouse that it once was. If Northwestern comes out prepared and plays like a competent Big Ten Team, which after last week could be a BIG if, they shouldn’t have to much trouble with the Huskies. I think Fitz makes sure his team is ready to play and attempts to quiet the doubters by blowing out NIU at home. Player to Watch: Mick McCall, Offensive Coordinator. While not really a player, McCall’s play calling against Cal and last year has been very bland and conservative – and at times has been questioned by many in the media. He needs to step it up, especially against a lightweight in the Huskies and show that Northwestern’s offense will be able compete in the Big Ten.
Jason Dorow (0-1) (@jasondorow): Northwestern 24-20. Northwestern is going to be challenged again in week two, but this time around Pat Fitzgerald has his young men ready to play. The ‘Cats grind out a victory in a back-and-forth battle. Player to watch: Justin Jackson. The freshman running back can be the x-factor by finishing off drives with touchdowns.
Ryan Fish (0-1) (@RyanMFish): Northwestern 27, NIU 21. It’s tough to be optimistic about this Wildcats team after watching their performance against Cal. Yes, they should beat a Jordan Lynch-less Huskies team. But I don’t think their play will look that much better this week, especially with playmaker Tony Jones now out with an injury. Player to watch: Justin Jackson. He showed off his athleticism in last week’s game and scored a 2nd half touchdown, and he’s already moved up the team’s RB depth chart. Look for him to get some more touches this week.

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