Faceoff: Can NIU beat Wisconsin?

By Tony Osborne & Eli Gehn

Tony Osborne: So Eli, big game coming up this week for NIU football. I think the Huskies’ offense has the clout to upset the powerhouse in Wisconsin. What do you think?

Eli Gehn: Well Tony, as much I will be rooting for the Huskies this Saturday, I just don’t see them pulling off this upset against the Badgers, no matter how good the their offense is.

T.O.: You along with many. But not many people see up close how good this offense really is. The balance between quarterback and a stout running game has been too much for the defenses NIU has faced so far.

E.G.: You have a good point, but the offense has only faced Army, who doesn’t necessarily have a solid defense. And, a Kansas defense who, let’s face it, doesn’t really deserve to be in the talks as being a Big 12 defense.

T.O.: The Kansas defense didn’t deserve to be in talks of much of anything. What makes you think the Badgers have what it takes to stop Chandler Harnish and the Huskies’ offense?

E.G.: Well, through the first two weeks of the season, the Badgers are 10th in the nation by allowing only 8.5 points per game. And there’s a reason why they’re ranked 7th in the FBS; they don’t give up big plays, which is NIU’s strong point thus far.

T.O.: The only real test the Badgers have had is Oregon State. We’ll see how they fare against a big play team like the Huskies. Wisconsin will need to be on its heels worried about the screen pass, mid-range pass or run from the running backs or Harnish. To me, that seems like a lot of areas that for the Wisconsin defense to handle versus the Huskies.

E.G.: This is true, but even if the Huskies put up some points, will the defense even be able to stop a Wisconsin offense that has playmakers of its own?

T.O.: NIU’s defensive line will need to continue its good play to keep the Huskies in this game. If the defensive line gets penetration, then Huskies linebackers Pat Schiller, Jordan Delegal and Jamaal Bass could have a good opportunity for tackles-for-a-loss on run attempts. If this happens, don’t be surprised to see a big day from NIU defensive tackle Alan Baxter and the rest of the front four.

E.G.: Perhaps, Tony. But I think the overall outcome will be 42-31, Badgers. Let’s see if the Huskies can pull off one of the biggest upsets in school history. There can’t be a better place to do it than good ol’ Soldier Field.

T.O.: Eli, I see the final score as 38-35 in favor of the Huskies. Harnish is going to have a national statement game, and I believe the defense is going to show up with a vengeance and hungry to prove it is a program to be reckoned with in all of college football.