Illinois State and Northern Illinois meet for the eighth time in program history with NIU holding a four games to three lead.
The game (7 p.m. ET start time) won’t be on regular TV anywhere, but you can watch it live right here on ESPN+, the digital streaming service from ESPN that includes multiple MAC football games every week, other college football and live sports, all the 30-for-30 documentaries and additional original content (both video and written) all for $4.99 per month.
You can sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then watch NIU vs Illinois State live on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone (Android and iPhone compatible), tablet, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or other streaming device via the ESPN app.
Illinois State vs Northern Illinois Preview
Illinois State comes into the year following a roller-coaster season last year. After bursting out of the gates on the back of a stellar offense, the Redbirds stumbled down the stretch and struggled to navigate the MVFC. Despite the slow finish to the season, the Redbirds are returning heaps of talent on both sides of the football and look primed to rebound and return to their 2014 national title game form. Returning the bulk of a strong offensive line, a starting running back, and a starting quarterback, the Redbird offense looks to be one of the highest-powered units in 2019.
Defensively, the Redbirds also return heaps of talent despite losing some key contributors. One of the best units in the FCS despite their late-season struggles in 2018, the Redbirds should likely find themselves the proud owner of an elite defensive unit once again. As long as the unit can stay healthy, the Redbirds look to have one of the most well-rounded teams in the entire FCS.
Northern Illinois is coming off a strong season yet face a nearly complete overhaul from the coaching staff all the way down to the on-field units. Especially on defense, the Huskies look to be an entirely different team from the one that upset Buffalo in the MAC title game. Planning to announce a starter on gameday, Northern Illinois will be breaking in a new quarterback along with a number of new offensive weapons. Unlikely to repeat the strong performance from last year, it seems to be a rebuilding year in Dekalb.
NIU’s defensive line needs to fill some major shoes. Specifically at defensive end, NIU loses their pair of elite edge rushers. The position will almost certainly see a drop in production compared to last season and while the defense may not be as strong as last year’s, the MAC still seems wide open and some solid play on the defensive side of the ball should keep them squarely in position to contend for another MAC title.
Despite being the FBS team, NIU should have their hands full with Illinois State. An elite FCS defense and loaded with returning talent on both sides of the ball, the Redbirds don’t have to worry about implementing a new offensive scheme or breaking in a host of new talent. While NIU might be the more talented team, Illinois State is likely the more cohesive team an undoubtedly has the talent to hang with an NIU team in transition.
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