Northern Illinois Huskies 2023 College Football Preview
June 21, 2023
Record – 3-9
ATS – 4-8
What goes up, must come down.
The Huskies SHOCKED the WORLD in 2021 with a MAC Championship but they followed that up with a 3-9 stinker in 2022. It wasn’t as bad as it looked tho as they were decimated by the injury bug and note that they played in a lot of close games. In fact, six of their losses were by 10 points or less, and they gave teams like Kentucky and Ohio a good battle.
Can the Huskies regain their 2021 form and make a run for a MAC West title?
Northern Illinois Huskies 2023 Outlook
The Huskies are a MUCH better team when QB Rocky Lombardi is healthy and that’ll be the case heading into 2023. Lombardi only played in four games LY but he led the team to the MAC title in 2021 whilst putting up some good numbers (15-8 TD to INT, 472 rush, 9 TD). The Huskies have depth behind Lombardi should something happen during the season. The Huskies lose two of their top-three RBs but they bring back a fine talent in Antario Brown (689, 6.3, 7 TD LY) and add Iowa transfer Gavin Williams to the mix. The Huskies had five players (including Lombardi) rush for 460+ yards during their 2021 title run so it’ll be interesting to see if they have the depth to pull that off again. Only one of their top-three WRs are back for duty but KACPER Rutkiewicz is solid (16.6, 6 TD) and they welcome legit #1 WR Trayvon Rudolph back in the mix who missed LY due to injury (892, 7 TD in 2021). The best news of all just might be the fact that the OL returns all five starters (!) and that should allow them to DO what they DO on offense.
The defense did a good job vs the run LY (#4 MAC) but they were absolutely shredded thru the air (last MAC pass efficiency D, 32-8 TD to INT). Seven starters return on this side of the football and there’s good reason to expect improvement in 2023. The DL should be stout with three returning starters including a pair of all-MAC performers at DT (Ester, O’Malley). The secondary will be improved given the retention of three starters and the addition of a few talented transfers. There’s a potential problem area at LB where they’ll be without the team’s #2 and #3 tacklers from 2022, and they’ll also need to find some new PENETRATORS given that they’ll be without three of their top-four sack producers.
They have a decent punter in Tom Foley (40.8) and welcome back the dangerous KR Trayvon Rudolph. It’ll sting to lose PK John Richardson who went 18/23 on FGA in 2022.
Overall – The non-conference slate isn’t a killer but it won’t be easy (at BC, at Corn, Tulsa). They have to tackle Toledo on the road but at least they draw Akron and Kent St from the East. November is the easiest month of the campaign by far so hopefully they can hold things together thru the end of October.
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – at Akron (Oct 7)
This will be their 3rd road game in four weeks and it’s SANDWICHED between a pair of yuuuge MAC tests (Toledo, Ohio). This doesn’t look like a great spot to back the road favorite.
Season Win Total
Market consensus June 21 <wide range of prices are available>
Over 5.5 -130
Under 5.5 -110
It’s very possible that they enter MACtion ACTion with a record of 2-2. That would necessitate four wins in conference games to hit the ‘over’. Seems reasonable.
The MAC Championship Game has been played since 1997 and the Huskies have the most appearances (9) and victories (5) of any current MAC team. Marshall won that bad boy five times before leaving the conference.
The Huskies appear poised to make some noise in the MAC this season as they have the QB and offensive line needed to SCORE the FOOTBALL and the defense will almost certainly show improvement. GET CHO POPCONE for the September 30th game at Toledo as that contest will go a long way towards determining the division champ. A potential SURPRISE PACKAGE lurks in DeKalb.