NIU brings back a lot of guys, including their QB and most of the defense, but they didn't have any truly impressive wins. However, if we're going to say that, it can certainly be argued that we didn't have any impressive wins either, and you can chalk the Nebraska win as a quirky, fluke game if you want too (but that's another topic for another thread).
Regardless, we'll be the favorites and although NIU certainly could beat us, I don't really see it happening. My guess is a hard fought game on the ground and a final score of 27-16.
NIU will be a tough game. They are decent. And we won't have Sims for that one. I still expect us to pull it out though. By a touchdown or less. We can't turn the ball over.
Iowa State is a 3-point favorite at home.
Northern Illinois performed remarkably similar to us last year; they went 7-6, beating the teams they should have beat, losing a couple close games that maybe they could have won. The difference is that they played in the MAC and we played in the Big XII.
I don't think the defense will be that bad. I still maintain that Wally can turn this inexperienced but probably more talented defense into something. If he could make last year's unit serviceable in one season, he can do it again (although most of these guys have a year with him to see what he's putting into practice).
Someone could make the argument that ISU is NIU's toughest opponent all year. They play North Dakota, Illinois, and Minnesota after ISU.
We win this by at least 14 points. Possibly more.
Northern Illinois wins in 2009:
Opponent, Opponent's '09 W-L record
Western Illinois, 1-10
Western Michigan, 5-7
Miami (OH), 1-11
Eastern Michigan, 0-12
Ball State, 2-10
Trust me, I hope I'm dead wrong and we blow them out. That would be awesome. But I've witnessed us losing to teams much worse than this too many times in the last several years to take them lightly.
I think if we played them 2 or 3 games into the season I'd feel better about this. We have a history of being very rusty in our first game.
If our offense is clicking, I think we can put up a lot of points on them. AA cannot turn the ball over though.
I'm just saying, these guys are better than the UNI's and Kent State's of the world. Don't sleep on them.