The MAC doesn’t get many shots to play against the big boys in the bowl season, but one lucky team every year gets its chance in the Quick Lane Bowl.
This year, the Northern Illinois Huskies are going to get their shot against one of the middling teams in the ACC, the Duke Blue Devils.
Northern Illinois Bowl History
The Huskies have been here before against an ACC team, but they were blown out against Florida State in the Orange Bowl five years ago.
Since that point, Northern Illinois hasn’t won a bowl game. Rod Carey didn’t take the team to the postseason last year, breaking an eight-year stretch for the Huskies in a bowl. Carey has had four shots before to win his first postseason game as a head coach, but he’s failed in the Orange Bowl, the Boca Raton Bowl and the Poinsettia Bowl twice. Perhaps a trip to Detroit for the Quick Lane Bowl will finally give Northern Illinois its first bowl victory since 2011.
Duke Bowl History
Duke went from 1995 through 2011 without being in a bowl game. The Dookies won a postseason showcase in 1960, and they went all the way to the 2015 Pinstripe Bowl before getting another victory in a December duel.
David Cutcliffe has done a remarkable job with this team, bringing it back from the depths of college football to respectability. This marks five times in six years that Duke has played in a bowl game, a stretch of success the team hasn’t had in six decades.
Why Northern Illinois Will Win the Quick Lane Bowl
If Northern Illinois is going to win the Quick Lane Bowl, it’s going to require Marcus Childers playing at the top of his game. He was the third quarterback this season for NIU after Ryan Graham got hurt and Daniel Santacaterina left the team. He threw 15 touchdowns against five picks and proved that he can run the ball quite well.
Jordan Huff had a frustrating senior season, but he’s capable of a huge game if he can just get the ball in his hands. He put up 148 yards on 25 carries against San Diego State and 185 yards on 25 rushes with two touchdowns against Western Michigan. If that’s the type of game he has in the Quick Lane Bowl, the Huskies are definitely going to be live underdogs.
Why Duke Will Win the Quick Lane Bowl
The Blue Devils finished the regular season ranked No. 25 in both scoring defense and total defense. Remember that Duke played against a really tough schedule this year, including non-conference games against Northwestern, Baylor and Army.
Daniel Jones took a bit of a step back in his sophomore campaign, but he played really well at the end of the regular season. Without his four touchdown passes in his last two games, the Blue Devils wouldn’t be in a bowl at all since both games needed to be won. Duke overcame a lot against Georgia Tech and Wake Forest, both contests in which it was a betting underdog.
Quick Lane Bowl Prediction
Northern Illinois should be a bit overmatched here. The Blue Devils aren’t your average 6-6 team; they would have won nine or 10 games in the MAC for sure.
You can look for signs that Northern Illinois can stick around in this game and find some, including a 23-20 loss to Boston College in Week 1, a 21-17 win at Nebraska in Week 3 and a 34-28 loss to San Diego State in Week 5. That said, the Huskies seemed to run up against everyone at the best time possible. That isn’t going to be the case with Duke. The Blue Devils are playing their best football of the season at the right time, and they shouldn’t have a problem with the Huskies in the Quick Lane Bowl.
Quick Lane Bowl Pick: Duke 27, Northern Illinois 17
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