Army-Northern Illinois OVER 55.5
New NIU head coach Dan Doeren has installed a faster-paced offense, in the mold of an Oregon. The Huskies want to snap the ball in 20 seconds or faster.
Northern Illinois fifth-year senior Chandler Harnish is one of nation’s top returning quarterbacks. Harnish, a first-team Mid-American Conference pick last season, threw for 21 touchdowns and ran for seven more in 2010.
He will pick apart a defensive backfield that has only starting cornerback Josh Jackson and reserve safety Ty Shrader with game experience.
Army does have explosiveness with slotback Raymond Maples. The defense will be focused on quarterback Trent Steelman and fullback Jared Hassin, leaving Maples, a strong, quick runner, opportunities for big plays.
The Black will keep defenses honest. Army might have its deepest backfield in years. Junior fullback Jared Hassin returns following a 1,000-yard season. Offensive coordinator Ian Shields said sophomore slotback Raymond Maples is poised for a breakout year. Maples battled through injuries, rushing for 208 yards as a freshman. Junior slotback Malcolm Brown scored six touchdowns. Sophomore Jon Crucitti can play anywhere in the backfield. Freshmen Larry Dixon and Trenton Turrentine are pushing for carries.
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BYU @ Ole Miss
Saturday, September 3, 4:45 p.m. ET
NCAAF betting line: BYU -3
How will BYU fare as an Independent in 2011? If its final six games of 2010 are any indication, the answer is: very well. The Cougars won five of their final six games last year, scoring 40 or more points four times.
Will quarterback Jake Heaps build on his outstanding finish to 2010, when he threw 14 touchdown passes versus three picks over his last six starts? Against Ole Miss, it’s highly possible. The Rebels’ “D” was porous last season.
The pick: BYU -3
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Northwestern at Boston College
Tanner’s Tip: Northwestern starting quarterback Dan Persa may not play the season opener, but it will not matter. The Wildcats have done an outstanding job of developing signal callers over the years with another good one ready to go in sophomore Kain Colter. They are 8-1 in their last nine regular-season games against non-conference opponents, and head coach Pat Fitzgerald will do everything he can to make sure his players win nine out of 10.
Bet Northwestern +3
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