sThis Saturday, Northern Illinois will travel to Chestnut Hill to take on the Boston College Eagles. Both teams are coming off tough losses against top-10 ranked teams. The Huskies fell to Ohio State 20-13.
Boston College were shut out by Florida State last Friday. But the 14-0 loss wasn’t as bad as the injury suffered by sophomore quarterback Darius Wade. In just his third career start Wade got pummeled in the back field that resulted in a broken ankle.
The sophomore had a promising outlook, but struggled throughout the game against the Seminoles.
With Wade out for the season, head coach Steve Addazio is forced to pick between the two freshmen quarterbacks Troy Flutie and Jeff Smith. Both Smith and Flutie have gotten snaps this season but most of these came from the Howard game and well, it was Howard. Flutie redshirted last season and has a strong arm while Smith is a true freshman with speed but lacks a real knowledge of the playbook and has trouble throwing.
On the other side of the ball, the Eagles defense, which has only allowed 17 points in three games, will have to contain Northern Illinois’s quarterback, Drew Hare. In three games, the junior has thrown for a total of 798 yards with two picks. Hare has a strong and experienced offensive line keeping the pocket open, however the Eagles defensive line has looked great, as both Mehdi Abdesmad and Harold Landry have been named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week through three games.
Although NIU is no Florida State, the Eagles will have an uphill battle if they want to wake up on Sunday 3-1.
Offensively, the Eagles' running game will have to find openings, especially their feature back Jon Hilliman. Hilliman was on the preseason watchlist for the Maxwell award, but the sophomore has only tallied 79 yards and one score so far.
If the Eagles want to win this game they will have to move the ball effectively on the ground and continue to play good defense against the Huskies’ strong passing attack as both teams are hungry for a win after tough losses last week.