uDrove Humanitarian Bowl: Fresno State vs. Northern Illinois
Saturday, December 18, 2010 5:30 P.M. ET
Laying the scene
Northern Illinois might have come up short in the MAC Conference Championship Game, but they had a successful season at 10-3. With a win this week, they'll boast the best record in school history. They'll have to do it without head coach Jerry Kill, though, who has left for the Minnesota job after leading this team to back-to-back winning seasons.
Fresno State also had a pretty successful season, but their record may not reflect it. The Bulldogs, 8-4, lost three of their four games to ranked opponents but finished the season with consecutive wins and are hoping for a third. Lucky for them, they are very familiar with the Humanitarian Bowl, as they are undefeated in the bowl at 2-0.
What Northern Illinois has to do to win
If Northern Illinois is going to win this game, the Huskies offense has to continue its rushing attack that ranks 7th nationally with an average of 264.8 yards per game. It shouldn't be hard to get the running attack going with players like Chad Spann and Chandler Harnish on the roster. Spann is the leading rusher on the team, gaining 1,293 yards and 20 touchdowns so far, while Harnish is a dual threat quarterback who has rushed for 764 yards and five touchdowns. Harnish can also throw the ball, so Fresno State better not focus on the run, or else they will get burned deep.
What Fresno State has to do to win
If Fresno State is going to win this game, they will need a healthy Robbie Rouse at running back and a strong defensive game from Chris Carter. Rouse injured his rib and was held out of the last game. Without Rouse, the Bulldogs were not able to get anything going on the ground in a game that they barely won 25-23. As shown with his absence, Rouse is an important member of the team, as he ranks 13th in the nation with 109.7 yards per game. On defense, defensive end Chris Carter will need to get to the quarterback. So far this season he hasn't had a problem doing that (see Player to Watch below). He can single handedly change the offensive game plan if he is able to get to the quarterback.
Northern Illinois is going to pull out with a victory this week. This game boasts two solid offenses, but Northern Illinois has the better defense, and that's what tips the scale. The offense with its success running will open up the passing attack. On defense, they will have to contain running back Robbie Rouse, but we won't know until game time if he is healthy enough to make an impact. Regardless, the Huskies defense should make enough stops to win this game.
Player to Watch
Chris Carter, defensive end for Fresno State
Chris Carter was named the WAC defensive player of the year. For the season, he led the WAC and ranked seventh in the nation with 11 sacks. He is also second in the conference with 16.5 tackles for a loss. He has 55 total tackles and forced four fumbles. Carter is the total package; he has led the Fresno State defense all season, and will need to be huge this week against Northern Illinois. He will have the assignment of trying to contain dual threat quarterback Chandler Harnish. It won't be easy, but he's proved throughout this season to be a dominant defensive end. Will he get the better of Chandler Harnish and the Northern Illinois Huskies? Stay tuned. - Danny Hobrock & Jared Levine
Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.
Jared is a Journalism and Sports Administration major at the University of Miami providing introspective, insight, information and opinion on the world of College Football.
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