San Diego State hits the road for the first time this season to play Northern Illinois. The Aztecs are 2-0. After shutting down New Hampshire, 31-0, in Week 1, the Aztecs battled at home last week for a hard-earned 45-40 victory against Davis Webb and the Golden Bears who flat-out refused to lose.
Northern Illinois is the antithesis of SDSU's start to the 2016 season. The Huskies were on the road for two weeks first playing Wyoming, where the Cowboys surprised them with a 40-34 loss, and from there Northern Illinois traveled to Tampa to take on the South Florida Bulls, where USF easily handled them with a 48-17 victory.
For this game, SDSU will play away for the first time this season and NIU will play their first home game.
San Diego State is on a 12 game win streak, the second-longest active streak and the longest for the program since winning 21 consecutive games from 1968 to 1970. This will be the first time the Aztecs have made the trip to DeKalb since 1970, but the last time these two programs played was Oct. 2, 1971, where the Aztecs won 30-10. The Aztecs are 4-0 in the all-time series.
Game: San Diego State vs. Northern Illinois Game Preview
When: Saturday, September 17 - 12:30 p.m. PT
Where: Huskie Stadium, DeKalb, Illinois
TV Broadcast: CBSSN
Odds: San Diego State -10.5
About the Huskies
Before getting into the finer points, it's important to know that NIU is a nation best 35-2 at Huskies Stadium.
"They've got something they do at home that really locks those kids in," SDSU head coach Rocky Long said. "You can't be 35-2 without having something special at home."
They are, however, 35-21 on the road over the same period. While the team has not been playing well on the road, they take on a whole different persona at home. Also, NIU has the winningest program in the Mid-American Conference over the past decade, appearing in eight straight bowl games. That includes last year's San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, where the Huskies were crushed 55-7 by Boise State at Qualcomm Stadium.
Fifth-year NIU head coach Rod Carey is 31-14, and Huskies fans are understandably giving him some heat these days. Five of those losses have come in the past five games including this season's first two games.
According to Campus Insiders, The biggest thing to know about the Huskies is their starting quarterback Drew Hare will be out of this weekend's game due to injury. If you haven't seen the clip of the play when his latest injury occurred — don't watch it on a full stomach.
His career might be done as the fifth-year senior missed a year recovering from a torn achilles and now he has an ankle and knee injury.
His replacement, redshirt sophomore Ryan Graham, completed 9-of-15 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown against South Florida. The running game will need to step up with Joel Bouagnon and Jordan Huff to have big games. They combined for a pedestrian 126 rushing yards on 27 carries against the Bulls last week.
SDSU quarterback Christian Chapman has shown the ability to throw the ball pretty well but one player to look out for on the Northern Illinois defense is cornerback Shawun Lurry who had nine interceptions last year but none this year after two games.
According to Campus Insiders, San Diego State sweeps all of these categories:
Offense: The Aztecs get this one since the Huskies are playing their backup quarterback and the running game of Pumphrey trumps all.
Defense: Giving up over 600 yards to Cal last week may seem like a concern on the surface but the Golden Bears will get their yards regardless of who they play. SDSU made up for yards given up and the points with turnovers. The Aztecs get the edge.
Special Teams: Rashaad Penny is the reigning Mountain West special teams player of the year and he has earned that moniker this year with a 100-yard kick return for a score against Cal. The kicking game shines for the Aztecs with John Baron perfect in all kicks this year.
Matchup To Watch
San Diego State secondary vs. Ryan Graham
This should be a much easier matchup for the Aztecs secondary, they got torched last week against Cal’s Davis Webb but they did pick him off three times. This will be toughest defense that NIU has faced and Graham getting action this week against a Rocky Long defense is never an easy task.