WHERE: Huskie Stadium, Dekalb, Illinois

KICKOFF: 2:30 p.m. Saturday

WEB: ESPN3

ALL-TIME SERIES: First meeting

LAST WEEK: Maine defeated Merrimack, 31-26; Northern Illinois lost to Michigan, 63-10

KEY STAT: 3-22, Maine’s record against FBS opponents

OUTLOOK: This game is ultimately going to come down to Maine’s ability to stop the run. The Huskies are averaging 190.3 rushing yards per game, third in the Mid-American Conference, and averaging 4.9 yards per rush. They’re led by freshman Harrison Waylee, who has rushed for 357 yards and three touchdowns and is averaging 5.5 yards per run. He’s not alone. QB Rocky Lombardi is averaging 5.6 yards per rush and RB Clint Ratkovich is averaging 5.9, along with three touchdowns. Maine’s front seven is going to be tested. The Black Bears are allowing only 118.0 rushing yards per game, and 3.7 yards per rush. Linebackers Ray Miller (24 tackles) and Adrian Otero (18) will need to play well, as will safety Fofie Bazzie (team-high 31 tackles). Maine’s defense will also look to build on last week’s performance, when the Black Bears took the ball away four times. The Huskies do turn the ball over, having lost it five times in three games.

The running game will be pivotal for the Black Bears on offense as well. QB Derek Robertson will be making only his second career start. And while Coach Nick Charlton said the Black Bears will open up the offense a little more this week, and allow him to get the ball downfield to his playmakers, it’s imperative that RBs Elijah Barnwell and Freddie Brock continue to build on last week’s effort, when Maine gained 125 yards rushing, 78 by Barnwell. Special teams will also be a factor. Maine blocked two PAT kicks last week, returning each for two points.

OF NOTE: Northern Illinois is a Football Bowl Subdivision team that plays in the Mid-American Conference. Maine is receiving $350,000 in guaranteed money to play the Huskies. This is the first of two games the Black Bears will play against FBS schools this year, the other being the University of Massachusetts on Nov. 13. Maine will receive $300,000 for that game. … The Black Bears are 3-5 all-time against MAC teams, the last victory coming in 1998, a 30-13 win over Buffalo. … Northern Illinois is 16-3 against FCS opponents, but has never played a team from the CAA.


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