Northwestern saved the Big Ten’s bacon on an otherwise mediocre Saturday with a stunning win over Stanford. Are the Wildcats really that good? Eastern Illinois got walloped 33-5 by Western Illinois, but that’s a very, very good, FCS-playoff caliber team it lost to. This is just the second time the two schools have played, with Northwestern winning the first time around 42-21 in 2011.
Below is the Northwestern vs. Eastern Illinois prediction and game preview.
Northwestern vs. Eastern Illinois Prediction & Preview
Date: Saturday, September 12
Game Time: 4:00 ET
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Why You Need To Care
Eastern Illinois started out last season giving Minnesota a few problems for a while, but the real issues came late in the year with two losses to close things out and lead to a losing season. This year, the hope was for more help from the defense after a great rushing game led the way to what should’ve been a stronger campaign. After one game, though, it’s been the O that didn’t show up yet.
There are two ways to look at the Northwestern win over the Cardinal. Either it was a brutally ugly game that made people hate college football, or it was a defensive masterpiece and a sign of things to come. The Wildcats go to Duke after this before hosting Ball State and Minnesota. All of a sudden, with one win over one strong Pac-12 program, the sky’s the limit considering Northwestern doesn’t play Ohio State or Michigan State.
Why Eastern Illinois Will Win
Northwestern has yet to show off a passing game. Stanford has a strong defense, but there was absolutely nothing coming out of the Wildcat offense down the field. Clayton Thorson completed just half of his passes for 105 yards with no scores, and after last season when there wasn’t much of an air show at all, the Cats still have to prove they can throw.
Why Northwestern Will Win
Eastern Illinois has yet to show off a passing game. Former Kentucky quarterback Jalen Whitlow only completed 17-of-36 passes for 153 yards with three interceptions in the loss to WIU. If Stanford’s Kevin Hogan couldn’t get anything going, can EIU? The NU secondary starred with a huge interception while not allowing a thing down the field. The defense has some juice at the moment.
Player Who Matters
Nothing seemed to work quite right offensively for Northwestern – except for Justin Jackson. The Wildcats beat up the supposedly physical Cardinal got shoved around, and Jackson took advantage with a grinding 134 yards on a tough 28 carries. It was enough to help NU keep the ball for almost 32 minutes. Time of possession will matter, and Jackson will be the difference.
What’s Going To Happen?
Eastern Illinois will wake up offensively, but not enough. Neither team will throw well, but Thorson will have a good enough second half to get the Wildcats out alive.
Northwestern vs. Eastern Illinois Score Prediction
Drum roll, please … the Northwestern vs. Eastern Illinois prediction …
Final Score: Northwestern 23, Eastern Illinois 13
Must See Rating: 5: Ferrell Takes the Field – 1: A Walk in The Woods … 2