Attack The Opponent (Bowl Edition!): Northern Illinois Huskies
The matchup with NIU has been years in the making. They’re another blue collar team from a small city, built on a reputation for giant killing. The Huskies are not “The Next Boise State,” they have forged their own identity. But it’s still the MAC.
The Huskies have had the same sort of trajectory over the last few years, a big win in a big bowl game, and the same kinda disappointing season where expectations were derailed but there have been flashes of brilliance. Their best game was a loss, coming within a score of Ohio State early in the season.
They lost to a tough Bowling Green in the MAC championship, lead by a fourth string walk-on QB and a fairly strong running attack. The Huskies defense is fairly stout, but hasn’t been really tested in a while outside of that last game.
As long as Boise State isn’t the team that distraction built, this game is a slight edge on paper to the Broncos. Their offense is just more explosive, and defense slightly more stout. However, there’s been some, uh, off the field distractions in the form of some legal issues, and a couple of important people to this team (no matter how little they would’ve played) aren’t with the team in San Diego.
Good work, gentlemen. Betty White disapproves.
However, maybe these guys have learned how to focus down, have healed up, and are going to come out and put on a show. NIU has one of their scholarship QB’s back, and both teams are more than capable of scoring points both on the ground and through the air. They’ve got a rather impressive run game, so expect them to pop off for at least a few long runs. The real battle here is going to be on the lines though. Boise’s defensive line should cause havoc on a young QB, but theirs should technically do the same to Ryp. So who knows.
We should prepare for the eventuality that this is the result and we have a 10-7 battle of the turnovers or something.
Either way, this game is going to be close enough to make both fan bases very uncomfortable, and might finally settle that question of who is the next Boise State (hint: It’s the team wearing Blue and Orange) to those on the other side of the country. NIU is a respectable program and will be a good matchup as both teams that didn’t quite live up to the lofty expectations that some of us had on them at the start of the season.
All of this is okay. Because 2016 is quickly approaching and while there are all of the questions right now and none of the answers going into next season, this game will give some young guys valuable experience, up to and including everybody on the coaching staff. The more they learn, the more dangerous they are.
Happy holidays, and Go Broncos!