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UTAH STATE vs. NORTHERN ILLINOIS
Thursday, Dec. 26, 9:30 pm
That's a heck of a long bowl game name that we have here, but it has a very good match-up in it. The Utah State Aggies had an interesting year where they lost starting quarterback Chuckie Keeton, and back-up freshman Darell Garretson had to step in and get the job done for the team. The Aggies ended the year at 8-5, winning their final five regular season games, getting to play against Fresno State in the Mountain West Championship game. They fell just short, losing to the Bulldogs by a touchdown, but had one heck of a turnaround.
The Northern Illinois Huskies on the other hand are a bit disappointed not to be playing in a BCS Bowl, as it looked like they could very well be the team to make it, until they lost to Bowling Green by 20 in the MAC Championship game. The Huskies were undefeated up until that point as well, making this an even tougher loss for them to swallow. The have one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Jordan Lynch, who actually finished third in Heisman voting as well.
This game kicks off at 9:30pm EST the day after Christmas, and the question that many are wondering is whether or not the Huskies are going to be able to bounce back after that loss to Bowling Green that ended their perfect season.
Utah State Defense
The Utah State Aggies always had a good defense, but after Keeton went down, they really stepped up. They rank 7th in the entire country in points allowed, as they only give up 17.3 points per game. They run a well-balanced attack on offense, but their defense really sets them up nicely it seems.
Northern Illinois Offense
The NIU offense ranks 4th in rushing yards and 9th in points for (312.5 yards per game and 41.6 points per game), and we fully expected to see that offense just run over Bowling Green, but it was just the opposite. Bowling Green frustrated this powerful Northern Illinois offense, and I'm definitely interested to see how they do against a strong Utah State defense, which is similar to Bowling Green in terms of stats.
Some of these pre-New Years bowl games really are great, and this should be one of them. Northern Illinois is currently a favorite in terms of the betting line. With how strong Utah State's defense is though, paired with the fact that I think Northern Illinois will be a bit let down after losing their undefeated season, I'm taking the Aggies to win this game. Utah State should win this game by almost a touchdown. Should be an interesting game with Northern Illinois offense vs the Utah State defense. You saw with Bowling Green how they shut down NIU in the championship game and I really believe it will happen again. As indicated at the beginning of the thread this is one game where we got the better of it early by grabbing a field goal and now having the line move considerably the other way. Also think this game goes UNDER the number. Not a strong opinion but passing it along nonetheless.
UTAH STATE +3
UTAH STATE / NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNDER 58 POINTS
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