Tulsa Golden Hurricane (0-1, American) vs Northern Illinois Huskies (1-0, Mid-American)
Time and Date: 7:00 PM ET, September 10
Broadcast Network: ESPN+
Location: H. A. Chapman Stadium - Tulsa, OK
ESPN FPI: Tulsa 77.3%
Line: Tulsa -6.5*
Point Total: O/U 63.5*
All-Time Series: This is the first time Tulsa and NIU will face off against one another.
*Odds/lines are subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
Tulsa came into their first game of the season focused on continuing their momentum after a 7–6 (5–3 American) season and Myrtle Beach Bowl victory. Early in the fourth, the Golden Hurricane looked to be cruising to an opening week win against Wyoming. However, it was the same old song and dance for Phillip Montgomery’s team. Offense is seldom the problem for the former Baylor Offensive Coordinator. Instead, his teams typically go as far as their defense will allow them to.
Redshirt Senior QB Davis Brin started the 4th quarter with a touchdown throw to his favorite target Keylon Stokes to go up 34-24. Less than 10 minutes later, Wyoming tied the game after throwing for a 51 yard TD pass where the safety and cornerback were out of the camera shot when the receiver caught the ball. Tulsa would eventually lost 37-40 in a second overtime when their kicker missed a field goal to tie.
While the loss stings, there are tons of positives to take away from the game for Golden Hurricane. All of Tulsa’s Offensive Lineman graduated or transferred after last season, but the offensive line held up relatively well considering all of them were starting their first college game. Keylon Stokes took advantage of his additional year of eligibility due to COVID and stood out with 169 receiving yards on 11 targets. However, Brin stole the show throwing for more yards than any other QB so far this season. The gunslinger threw for 460 yards, three TDs, and avoided turning over the football.
While NIU had a better result against FCS Eastern Illinois, the reigning MAC Champions who went 9-5 last year left a lot to be desired from their performance. NIU rushed out to a 28-6 lead in the third quarter before they seemingly decided to make the game interesting. EIU was a 34.5 point underdog but roared back to make the score 34-27 with two minutes remaining. The Huskies went 4 and out and EIU got the ball back with a chance to tie the game but time expired.
While NIU had several key injuries and transfers who took home MAC honors a year ago, the offense had many bright spots. No one offensive player stuck out in particular, but NIU had an impressive trio of running backs. Harrison Waylee, Antario Brown, and Mason Blakemore split 32 carries for 188 yards on the ground. Each back got a rushing touchdown. Meanwhile, RS Senior QB Rocky Lombardi was also solid throwing for 192 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions.
Where NIU fans and coaches get nervous is on the defensive side of the ball. EIU actually tipped NIU 441 yards to 379. The Huskies’ defense only managed two QB hurries, two sacks, and a pass deflection. NIU will be facing stiffer competition this week and need to improve in a hurry as their next three games at Tulsa, Vanderbilt, and at Kentucky.
This game should be an entertaining, high scoring affair. Ultimately, it could come down to which QB plays better or who gets the ball last. After Davis Brin threw for nearly 500 yards last week, it is hard to pick against the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa takes this one 41-31.