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Opponent Preview: Northern Illinois

In their fourth game of the season, the Eagles will host the Northern Illinois Huskies. In their second-ever meeting, and first in 40 years, the Eagles will need their defense to contain NIU's strong running game as the young BC offense will most likely still have some growing pains.

Northern Illinois vs. Boston College

Saturday, Sept. 18 at Alumni Stadium

Eagles Chance Of Winning: 60.4% (According to ESPN FPI)

Head-Head Series: Eagles 1, Huskies 0

Boston College and Northern Illinois have played each other only once, in 1971. The Eagles won that content 20-10. Over 40 years later, the Huskies will look to even the series at one when they travel to Alumni Stadium on Sept. 26.

Both teams have similar schedules coming in to the game, as they have two non-conference games that they are heavily favored to win. Then, a week before they face off, Northern Illinois and Boston College will each take on one of last year’s top teams.

The Huskies will travel to Columbus to take on the defending champion Ohio State Buckeyes. The Eagles will host the Florida State Seminoles, who lost in the semifinals of the College Football Playoff in 2014.

Both BC and NIU are projected to enter the contest 2-1 and will likely be looking to bounce back after a tough (but expected) loss before they enter conference play.

Northern Illinois won the Mid-American Conference with an 11-3 record last season. The Huskies return the bulk of their defense, which finished 58th overall in 2014. The defense will have to be relied on, as the offense will have some growing pains.

Quarterback Drew Hare will return under center for his junior season. He will have to reach between a new lineman’s legs, as three of his offensive linemen are no longer Huskies. The run-heavy offensive must rely on returning running back Joel Bouagnon and at least one of a trio of freshmen to carry the load. Backs who were responsible for 250 carries of last year’s 347 total are gone.

For the Eagles to beat the Huskies, as they are expected to, BC’s front seven must contain NIU’s run game. Last season, the Maroon and Gold ranked second in run defense, allowing only 94 yards per game. Hare is not an especially talented quarterback, and the Eagles return the bulk of their secondary that ranked 65th in the FBS. If defensively they can stop the Huskies from scoring, then the Eagles’ brand new quarterback and offensive line can hopefully score enough points to win.

Insider Prediction: BC: 14, NIU 12

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