San Diego State University vs Northern Illinois University
Saturday, September 30, 2017
7:30 PM on CBSS
SDCCU Stadium, San Diego California
On Saturday September 30th, SDSU will play host to the NIU Huskies at SDCCU Stadium. Game time is at 7:30 pm in a game that will be broadcast nationally by CBSS.
After last week’s game, in which the Aztecs showed tremendous will to win, SDSU returns home to host the Huskies from Northern Illinois University. The contest last week featured an hour and half delay due to horrible weather in Colorado. The Aztecs battled and were able to pull out the victory.
A big home crowd is expected, as the Aztecs continue on this special season. Northern Illinois is currently 2-1 on the season, and was idle last week. The last time the Huskies played, they went to Lincoln, Nebraska and shocked the college football world by upsetting the Cornhuskers. So SDSU better be ready to play Saturday night, because if they are not ready, NIU could hand the Aztecs their first loss of the season.
Northern Illinois’ biggest strength might have been their defense in that game against Nebraska. They returned two interceptions for touchdowns. Christian Chapman should be careful with the football in this one as they have a decent defense.
During the week, NIU head coach Rod Carey has repeatedly stated that in order for the Huskies to pull the upset, they will need to limit the explosive plays from San Diego State. The Aztecs currently rank in the top five in the country when it comes to explosive plays, which are plays of 20-plus yards. Coach Carey also remembers a play from last year’s game, a perfectly executed wheel route in which Rashaad Penny got behind the defense for a 28-yard touchdown. Carey said that they need to contain the Heisman hopeful and put the game in Chapman’s hands.
This will be a strength vs strength scenario, because as I mentioned above, the Aztecs are a very explosive offense, but so far in 2017 the Huskies have only allowed two 20 yard rushes. They have played Boston College and Nebraska this season already, so clearly they have played against talented runners.
It will be interesting to see how quickly SDSU recovers physically from last week’s tough game.
NIU, much like Air Force, is a team that likes to play smash mouth football. I think that physical conditioning will be a key factor in this game. I’m also curious to see how much of the game plan will revolve around the passing attack. At this point, everybody knows that Rashaad Penny is one of the best players in college football, and that includes opposing teams, so obviously NIU will build their defensive game plan around stopping the run. Look for the Aztecs to try to establish the passing game early on, maybe a couple of screens and curl routes to the receivers in order to keep NIU’s defense honest.
I’m also interested in seeing how the Aztecs deal with the hype after last weeks win. The Aztecs have been a topic on national shows, and some analysts and pundits have declared SDSU the favorite of the group of five to play in a New Years Bowl. I think head coach Rocky Long will have his players ready for Saturday, but I’m curious to see if the Aztecs feed off the hype and start blowing out the opposition.
On defense, SDSU should be ready to contain senior RB Jordan Huff. Although he only has 32 carries so far this year, he has 202 rushing yards and he only needed 18 carries to break the 100 yard mark against Nebraska two weeks ago. I think the defense will step up to the challenge, and limit Huff and NIU’s offense.
In my opinion, the game will come down to explosive plays. If the Aztecs can continue to produce on offense the way they have so far in 2017, they’ll walk away with their record unblemished. But this could really turn into a dogfight if Northern Illinois can find a way, on defense, to contain Penny and company. I think this will be a close game for the first half, but after the break, SDSU’s superior talent and depth will take over the game. In the end, the Aztecs will win by the score of 37-23.