clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Why Northwestern will/won’t beat Southern Illinois

The Salukis aren’t a pushover, but the path to victory for the ‘Cats is a familiar one.

NCAA Football: Southern Illinois at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Why Northwestern WILL beat Southern Illinois

Northwestern starts fast

Two straight games now to start the season where the ‘Cats gave up long touchdowns on the opening drive. The defense has to come ready to play Saturday from the first whistle or the ‘Cats could find themselves in a dogfight. If Northwestern can set the tone early and establish the run game, they should overcome the Salukis on Saturday.

Evan Hull touches the ball... Every. Single. Play.

Coach Pat Fitzgerald and offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian should look to work on the run game in this contest to get their squad ready for the demanding Big Ten schedule that lies ahead following the non-conference slate. Hilinski has looked good in the passing game, amassing close to 750 yards in two games, but the running game has sputtered.

Evan Hull was one of the lone bright spots in last week’s loss to Duke, totaling 278 all-purpose yards on 31 touches. Hull has emerged as the workhorse for the ‘Cats, and they should look to lean on him to help Northwestern build and maintain a lead in Saturday’s game.

Why Northwestern WON’T beat Southern Illinois

The ‘Cats start slow, again

The slow starts will not be a recipe for success if Northwestern wants to be competitive against a daunting conference schedule later this season. Facing teams like Penn State, Wisconsin and Ohio State, Northwestern must throw punches early and set the tone.

This game won’t be any different. In six of its last seven games against FBS opponents, Southern Illinois held the halftime lead. The Wildcats certainly do not want to walk into the locker room down at the half. That very well may happen if the defense continues to miss tackles and give its opponents scoring opportunities early.