SDSU @ Northern Illinois: Preview of SDSU’s First Road Trip

Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego State (2-0) at Northern Illinois (0-2)

Saturday September 13, 12:30 PM on CBSSN

Huskie Stadium, DeKalb, Illinois

San Diego State (2-0), now riding a 12 game winning streak, put on a show last week in the Q taking down Cal (1-1) 45-40 while gaining the national attention and respect they deserve.

This week the Aztecs head to DeKalb, Illinois to take on the Northern Illinois University Huskies (0-2). SDSU is looking to prove that they are not only a powerhouse at home, but can produce the same high-caliber football on the road as well.

What to watch for

We all watched the outstanding display that Donnel Pumphrey put up last week, rushing for 281 yards and three touchdowns against Cal who is ranked 125th in run defense. Northern Illinois have started off this season with a tremendous amount of struggles on defense, particularly against the run game. The huskies, ranked 123rd in run defense, have given up a total of 536 rushing yards this season, with an average of just over five-yards per run. So look for Pumphrey to put on a show similar to last weekend. This game may not be as important to State as the Cal game was, but this is Pumphrey’s senior year so without a doubt he will be giving it all every week.

The NIU Huskies have not been too hot on offense as well either. It’s not helping either that their starting quarterback, Drew Hare, has gone down with an injury for the second straight season. Backup QB Ryan Graham will be under the center next week. He has thrown a total of 15 passes this season for 65 yards and a competition rate of 60 percent. However, against a high-caliber quarterback last week State gave up an embarrassing 522 passing yards, but did manage to pick him off on three separate occasions. So, look for the SDSU defense to jump all over the inexperienced NIU quarterback and take advantage for any mistakes he may make.

But just like any sport, no game is a guaranteed win for any team. The Huskies have won 35 of their last 37 games is DeKalb, Illinois. They are very comfortable playing in their home stadium and have even used their tremendous play at home to push themselves into a bowl game for their last eight consecutive seasons. The Aztecs cannot take this opponent likely, no matter how much they’ve been struggling this year.

Key Matchups

Kazee and Golladay

Kenny Golladay is NIU’s most productive receiver so far this season, he has put up 187 receiving yards and is the only NIU receiver to have found the endzone more than once (2). Last weekend, he caught the ball only four times for 47 yards. Look for Kazee to provide more lockdown defense, as he did the last week with three broken up passes, an interception, and six tackles (five solo).

X-Factors 

#54 Calvin Munson

Just like I predicted last weekend, linebacker Calvin Munson should be an x-factor in this game. He wrapped up 14 tackles (nine unassisted) against Cal, pushing his season total 25 tackles (16 unassisted) in just two games. He also picked up his first sack on the season for a loss of eight yards and picked up one and a half tackles for a loss. The 245 pound beast is a key piece on the Aztec defense and should put up double-digit tackles again this Saturday.

#6 Mikah Holder

In week one against New Hampshire, Holder put up big numbers, including an 86 yard touchdown reception that opened the flood gates for Aztec scoring. Last weekend however, he only managed to pick up 15 yards receiving on just two receptions. He is very capable of big things and you should look for him to bounce back this game against a struggling defense in Illinois.

Huskies at Home

Like I stated previously, the Huskies have won an outstanding 35 of their last 37 home games. Although they have been struggling this year, Saturday will be the home opener for NIU and they will be looking to make another statement about their confidence when playing on their home field. Expect NIU to give State their all as they push for their first victory on the season.

My Predictions

NIU will be looking to impress the home crowd and make a statement against a strong Aztec team. I think they’ll come out swinging and put at least a field goal up on the board before State can score. I think the Aztecs will be too much for the Huskies however, and will pound the ball on the ground and through the air throughout the entire game. State has shown they can put up big points against shaky defenses so I think they come away with a big victory, 40-10.

Bold Predictions

Number 19 rushes for another 250-yards this game and finds the end zone twice. Christian Chapman has a huge game as well and throws for three touchdowns.

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Derek Cluff
Derek is a 22-year-old out of Lemon Grove, California. A burning passion for San Diego sports led him to pursue an opportunity to write and share about what's going on with the teams in America's Finest City. A young and aspiring sports journalist looking to grow his knowledge and expand his experience at any opportunity.

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Derek Cluff
Derek is a 22-year-old out of Lemon Grove, California. A burning passion for San Diego sports led him to pursue an opportunity to write and share about what's going on with the teams in America's Finest City. A young and aspiring sports journalist looking to grow his knowledge and expand his experience at any opportunity.