The Duke Blue Devils and the Northern Illinois Huskies will square off in the 2017 Quick Lane Bowl. Both teams will travel to Detroit to play at Ford Field the day after Christmas. Here is the 2017 Quick Lane Bowl preview:
Duke Blue Devils (6-6)
The Blue Devils lost six straight games in the middle of the season to drop to 4-6, but won the last two games to get to bowl eligibility. Their wins over Northwestern and Wake Forest are the only wins over bowl teams this season.
David Cutcliffe knows offense, but it hasn’t been good this year scoring 25.9 points per game. Their running game averages 167.9 yards a game. Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown have formed a decent one-two punch with both players having over 600 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Quarterback Daniel Jones also helps with 432 yards and six touchdowns.
Jones has struggled at quarterback this season, but is still a quality player. He has thrown for 2,439 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. That isn’t great and needs to improve. Wide receiver T.J. Rahming is the top target with 61 receptions, 733 receiving yards and one touchdowns.
Luckily for Duke, their defense has stepped up and only allowed 20.8 points per game. They rank 23rd against the run and 12th against the pass. Sophomore defensive back Mark Gilbert is tied for fourth in the country with six interceptions.
Northern Illinois Huskies (8-4)
This may not be the Northern Illinois team that made a BCS bowl, but they had a solid season. They have eight wins, but have only beaten two bowl eligible teams in Western Michigan and Buffalo. This season, the Huskies have only lost to bowl eligible teams.
Northern Illinois scores 30.2 points per game, despite not moving the ball well. They average 187.3 yards on the ground per game. Jordan Huff has rushed for 740 yards and four touchdowns, while quarterback Marcus Childers has 454 yards and five touchdowns.
Childers does not specialize in throwing the ball well. He has 1,440 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and just five interceptions. The key for him is to keep protecting the ball. Three receivers have over 400 yards receiving this season, which creates balance within the passing game. Between Spencer Tears, Chad Beebe and Christian Blake one of the three will be able to produce at a given time.
Their defense is solid and allows 20.8 points per game. They rank 12th against the run and 54th against the pass. Sophomore defensive lineman Sutton Smith has dominated with his 14 sacks this season, which ranks first in the country.
Duke has more talent and will let it show in this game. The trio of Daniel Jones, Shaun Wilson and T.J. Ramming will produce in the game and lead the Blue Devils to victory.
Duke Blue Devils 32 Northern Illinois 20
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