Navy (6-4) at Northern Illinois (6-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 25th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Huskie Stadium (24,000) -- DeKalb, Illinois. Television: ESPN Classic. Home Record: Navy 4-1, NIU 0-0. Away Record: Navy 2-2, NIU 0-0. Neutral Record: Navy 0-1, NIU 0-0. Conference Record: Navy 0-0, NIU 0-0. Series Record: Navy leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The regular-season ends Tuesday night for Northern Illinois, as the Huskies will close out their schedule against the Navy Midshipmen at Huskie Stadium. The Midshipmen saw their two-game winning streak come to a halt the last time the team was on the field, as Navy was defeated by Notre Dame, 27-21. Navy has done a commendable job against teams from the MAC, posting a 17-13 ledger against schools from that conference. As for the Huskies, they snapped a two-game losing skid the last time the team was on the gridiron, defeating Kent State, 42-14. It was the sixth victory of the season for NIU, and also pushed the team's league mark to 5-3. Fortunately the majority of the success for NIU has come at home, where the team is 4-1 on the year. Last year was the first time these two schools collided on a football field, and it was the Midshipmen who narrowly escaped with a 35-34 win.
The Navy offense is driven by the ground game, and thus far the unit's success running the ball has been outstanding, as Navy is currently averaging 295.0 ypg on the ground. The Midshipmen are posting 28.4 ppg, and out of the 32 touchdowns scored by Navy, 27 have come via the run. Shun White has been the main option for Navy and comes into this matchup with 873 yards and seven touchdowns. Eric Kettani is next in line with 715 yards and two scores, while quarterback Jarod Bryant has contributed 481 yards and six touchdowns. Unfortunately the last time Navy was on the field the team's ground game was held to just 178 yards in a loss to Notre Dame. Kettani and Bryant led the way with 42 and 41 yards, respectively, while White, Ricky Dobbs and Cory Finnerty each scored a touchdown.
The Midshipmen's problem this year has been on the defensive side of the football, as the team is allowing 369.7 total ypg. The defense has allowed 16 rushing touchdowns, and another 16 scores through the air, while surrendering an overall total of 25.7 ppg. Surprisingly the defense has been able to force 25 turnovers on the season, but pressuring the quarterback has been a problem, as the defense has recorded just 15 sacks. In the recent loss to Notre Dame, the Midshipmen had no answer for the ND ground game, as Navy was pounded for 230 yards on 4.5 ypc. Navy even collected five takeaways in the game, but allowed Notre Dame to convert on 4-of-5 red zone chances. Jeff Deliz did a tremendous job in the loss, finishing the game with an outstanding 17 tackles.
Just like their counterpart, the Huskies rely heavily on their ground game, which is churning out 176.2 ypg. Overall, Northern Illinois is averaging a mediocre 342.4 total ypg, and that has led to 27.6 ppg. Leading the way out of the backfield is Me'co Brown, who is pacing the team with 503 yards and two scores. Quarterback Chandler Harnish is second on the team with 414 yards, while Chad Spann has contributed 339 yards and a team-best eight touchdowns. The last time NIU was on the field the team once again relied on the ground game, as the Huskies rushed for 224 yards en route to a large victory over Kent State. Harnish did all the work in the victory, as the signal caller led the ground game with 117 yards and two scores, while also throwing for 173 yards and two more touchdowns.
Where Northern Illinois has excelled this season is defensively, as the unit is holding the opposition to just 304.5 total ypg, and that has led to a mere 18.3 ppg. The defense has done extraordinarily well against the run, holding teams to just 130.2 ypg, and only 10 rushing TDs. Unfortunately the unit has been unable to make big plays, forcing just 19 turnovers, while recording 22 sacks. In the recent win over Kent State, the Huskies were simply phenomenal, holding KSU to a pathetic 253 total yards, which included just 127 rushing yards. Mike Sobol paced the team in the win with nine tackles and also collected one TFL.
Considering how both teams like to run the ball, this should be a low-scoring affair. However, the one glaring difference between the two teams comes on the defensive side of the football. NIU is very strong in that area, and ultimately should win because of it.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Illinois 24, Navy 17
11/25 10:50:33 ET