By KENNY FRANEK
Game of the Week - Northern Illinois @ Ohio
This game is a big one as far as the MAC standings are concerned. The loser will virtually be ousted from MAC championship contention as both teams sit at 5-1 in conference play. Ohio is in second place behind Temple (6-0) in the East standings and Northern Illinois is behind Central Michigan (6-0) in the West. Ohio must win this game and their season finale against Temple to make it to the MAC championship, while Northern Illinois must win this game and their finale against Central Michigan to make a MAC championship appearance.
Ohio will have to deal with the two-headed backfield monster of the Huskies consisting of Chad Spann (pictured) and Me’Co Brown. The two have coined themselves “bolt and jolt”, an allusion to one being quick and elusive (Brown) and the other being a power runner (Spann). Spann has 16 touchdowns on the season to go along with an impressive 6.3 yards-per-carry average. Brown averages 4.6 yards-per-carry and can explode for a long gain at any moment. Containing both will be a tough assignment.
On the flip side, Northern Illinois will have to focus on containing receivers LaVon Brazill and Taylor Price. Neither has eye-popping numbers, but both have the talent and athleticism to beat their opponent on any given play. Price is 6’1” 212 pounds and has the ability to go get the ball if it is not on target while Brazill can beat you with his speed and agility. Since the Bobcats’ running game has been inefficient this season, expect the Huskies to key in on these receivers and force Ohio to run the ball.
Both teams excel at different aspects on offense which makes this such an intriguing match-up. If one team can stop the other’s strength on offense they should walk away victorious. But if neither is successful, it could turn into a back-and-forth slugfest. With so much at stake in this game you can expect both teams to come out fired up, ready to play as if it were the National Championship. Prediction: Northern Illinois 24; Ohio 21
Players to Watch: Northern Illinois: RB Chad Spann, RB Me’Co Brown, QB Chandler Harnish, LB Cory Hanson, DE Jake Coffman, Ohio: WR LaVon Brazill, WR Taylor Price, RB Chris Garrett, LB Noah Keller, DT Dak Notestine
Other Games to Watch
Southern Methodist @ Marshall: With the Mustangs now controlling their own destiny in C-USA, Marshall will be their last true hurdle to claiming a spot in the conference title game. Prediction: Southern Methodist 28; Marshall 20
Air Force @ BYU: Quarterback Max Hall looks to break Ty Detmer’s record for most wins by a BYU quarterback in this match-up against the Falcons. Prediction: BYU 34; Air Force 20
UAB @ East Carolina: This is a must-win game for the Blazers if they hope to stay in the hunt for a berth in the C-USA title game. The Pirates will need a win to stay atop the East standings with an upcoming visit from West division-leading Southern Methodist in their season finale. Prediction: East Carolina 21; UAB 17
Photo Courtesy of MAC/Northern Illinois
Thursday, November 19, 2009
By KENNY FRANEK