Yager Stadium, Oxford, OH.
The Northern Illinois Huskies got a refresher course on turnover importance two weeks ago when a spate of Huskie miscues led to a 29-19 loss at Central Michigan.
Although wet and windy conditions contributed to the turnover run, Huskies head coach Rod Carey promised, ""We're going to get in the film room and go to work, correct our mistakes and get better."
It was lesson learned for the most part the following week as NIU committed just one turnover and rolled up 636 yards in a 59-41 win over Ball State.
The Miami RedHawks, meanwhile, endured yet another painful turnover lesson last week. True freshman Billy Ball tossed four interceptions, adding to MU issues as Ohio dominated the RedHawks, 34-3. The RedHawks also had four turnovers (all interceptions) in a 20-14 loss at Kent State the previous week and four turnovers (three interceptions) in a 56-14 loss at Western Kentucky one week earlier.
Saturday's tilt against Northern Illinois is just the third home game for Miami, a young team (particularly on offense) that seems to play better in front of the home folks. Home field or not, however, the RedHawks will need to drastically cut down turnovers and improve defensive consistency, especially in defending the pass.
Northern Illinois leads the series, 8-7. The Huskies gained 658 yards and never punted in a 51-41 win over Miami last year in Dekalb.
Here's more on the two teams:
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> Quarterback Drew Hare rushed for 180 yards and two TDs, while throwing for another 185 yards with one TD in last year's offensive shootout. RB Cameron Stingily also gained 133 yards (one TD) and WR Da'Ron Brown registered four catches for 128 yards (one TD).
> Hare was the MAC West Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against Ball State. He completed 29 of 32 for 363 yards and two touchdowns.
> Last week's win over Ball State broke a three-game Huskie losing streak. The 90.6 percent set a new NIU record.
> Northern Illinois ranks second (MAC) in scoring offense (33.3 ppg) and is tied for sixth in scoring defense (27.2 ppg).
> NIU is second in rushing offense (184.2 ypg) and ninth in pass offense (229.6 ypg). Defensively, the Huskies rank fifth against the rush (142.5 ypg) and eighth against the pass (235.5 ypg).
> Huskie sophomore cornerback Shawun lurry has intercepted at least one pass in each of NIU's last four games. He leads the nation with six picks on the season.
> Junior running back Joel Bouagnon (6-2, 226) is is the Huskies touchdown machine. He leads NIU in rushing with 591 yards on 130 carries and has scored 10 touchdowns. Sophomore Jordan Huff is the only other Huskie rusher with more than one TD (3).
> Transfer Kenny Golladay leads NIU receivers with 34 receptions, 529 yards and three touchdowns.
> Placekicker Christian Hagan has converted seven of nine field goals with a long of 48. He was good on 23 of 25 PATs.
MIAMI REDHAWKS (1-5, 0-2 MAC)
> After almost exclusively using Andrew Hendrix at quarterback last year, the RedHawks have tried a trio of replacements. All had little or no game experience entering 2015. True freshman Billy Bahl started against Ohio and has struggled with seven interceptions in his last two outings. He has one touchdown and nine interceptions, with a 37.5 percent completion percentage on the season.
> The RedHawks run game has been inconsistent and is ranked 10th among MAC teams with a 120.5 ypg average. Redshirt freshman Gus Ragland, another quarterback with limited playing time this year, leads the team in rushing with 194 yards on 32 carries. RB Alonzo Smith totals 185 yards and three TDs on 50 attempts.
> Sam Martin (16), Jared Murphy (13), Rokeem Williams (14) and Chris Hudson have combined for 56 receptions and 962 yards with four touchdowns. Sophomore tight end Ryan Smith counts three TDs among his nine catches.
> MU's top tackler is linebacker Kent Kern (50), while linebacker Paul Moses has 41 tackles, 4.5 tfl and 3.0 sacks.
> Miami won its opener against FCS foe Presbyterian, 26-7. It had a late lead at home against Cincinnati before losing 37-33 and was driving for a possible win late against Kent State before an interception halted that drive. Miami lost 20-14.
> Miami has an extremely young roster. Of its 110 players, 62 are either redshirt or true freshmen. The RedHawks have just 15 seniors, 17 juniors and 16 sophomores.