SALT LAKE CITY — If the BYU football team is hoping for some bulletin board material to pump itself up for this week’s game against Northern Illinois, the Cougars might be out of luck.
The Daily Chronicle — in DeKalb, Illinois, not at the University of Utah — did write about BYU this week. The Cougars are even on the front page of the paper’s website along with news about a wind energy ordinance and an announcement about the annual pumpkin festival.
But don’t click on the NIU-BYU story if you’re hoping for some juicy comments.
The nonconference game is being considered an opportunity for this Mid-American Conference program, which has a 4-3 record like BYU.
The program lost at Iowa (33-7) and at Florida State (37-19) earlier this season, but the Huskies picked up a huge victory for their school last year at Nebraska. That win is referred to as “The Boneyard Victory.”
Redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Jack Heflin told the Chronicle that this game at LaVell Edwards Stadium will give the team another chance to prove itself outside of the MAC.
“To go from Illinois all the way up to Utah to show what you have and travel all around the country, that’s what out of conference is, is to see what you have and how you stack up against other people,” Heflin said.
This NIU team lost to Utah 17-6 earlier this season, but it won’t be intimidated by a crowd of 54,000-plus in Provo.
“We know what we’re doing when the situation is loud and third-and-long and the crowd gets going,” NIU junior running back Marcus Jones said. “We’re really familiar, and our experience will help us along the way going into this game. We know what to expect. We know they’re going to be loud.”
There isn't much else written about this NIU-BYU matchup outside of Utah, but here is Bleacher Report's prediction: BYU 22, Northern Illinois 17.
David Keynon of BR wrote: "Both offenses reached the 400-yard plateau in their most recent games. Can either one repeat that showing? This will likely be a defense-first slog in which one quarterback finally makes a play, and we'll give that advantage to BYU's Zach Wilson."