Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Cameron Stingily's running ability will be an asset for Northern Illinois on Saturday.
Run Right at the Boilers
To put it lightly, Purdue has struggled against the run this season when facing teams that favor the ground. Against Wisconsin, the Boilermakers gave up 380 yards on the ground.
Northern Illinois is not Wisconsin, but they are 11 in the nation in rushing yards per game at 295.3.
Wisconsin did their damage with three running backs, but Northern Illinois’ weapons of choice are two running backs (Cameron Stingily and Tommylee Lewis) and an incredibly mobile quarterback (Lynch).
While Wisconsin’s solid running backs tormented Purdue, a mobile quarterback has also given the Boilers fits: Cincinnati’s Munchie Legaux.
He threw for 145 yards and a touchdown and ran for 55 yards and a score (on only six attempts) in the 42-7 blowout.
Running the ball will be key for the Huskies in this game.
Stop Purdue on Kickoff Returns
Northern Illinois has done well on kickoff coverage this season, allowing only 251 yards through three games.
That will come in handy against Purdue’s return unit, one of the team’s most dangerous weapons.
Akeem Hunt has already returned one for a score this season and boasts a 32.3 average on nine returns this season.
Raheem Mostert led the FBS in kickoff return average (33.5) as a true freshman. Now a junior, teams have chosen to kick away from him this season, which NIU may opt to do as well.
And B.J. Knauf has stepped as well this season when given the opportunity, returning four kicks for 101 yards.
While the Purdue offense has struggled, the special teams play has shined.
Northern Illinois will need to keep these players in check on Saturday to keep Ross-Ade Stadium from shifting the momentum toward Purdue in the blink of an eye.