FIVE KEYS TO TODAY’S GAME

FIVE KEYS TO TODAY’S GAME


1. Lean on Lines


Arkansas’ offensive front was overpowering at Texas Tech. The defensive line held firm as well. The Razorbacks expect a bigger test from Northern Illinois and its performance up front will be vital for another win.


2. Balance Attack


The Razorbacks didn’t need the passing attack the past two weeks. But Arkansas believes QB Brandon Allen and his receivers will have to do more to beat the Huskies. So efficiency in the passing offense is a must.


3. Start Strong


Arkansas needs to start strong against a confident opponent tonight. The Huskies have won 17 straight road games dating back to 2011. They’ve been dominant in the first half so far this season, outscoring teams 55-5.


4. Disrupt NIU Passing


NIU does a good job on the ground, but the Razorbacks must be ready for the passing attack. QB Drew Hare is playing well, while WR Da’Ron Brown is having a big season. So it’s another big game for the secondary.


5. Win Turnover Battle


Martrell Spaight made the game-changing play with his INT at Texas Tech and the Hogs forced three turnovers. Takeaways will be key again as Arkansas tries to win the turnover battle for the second straight week.


TODAY’S KEY MATCHUP


Arkansas ground game


Key Statistics: Averaging 362 rushing yards a game


The Razorbacks aren’t hiding what they plan to accomplish on a weekly basis under coach Bret Bielema. It was evident at Texas Tech, when a punishing ground game ran over the Red Raiders en route to 438 yards and 7 rushing touchdowns. Arkansas expects a stiffer challenge today, but will continue to lean on its massive offensive line and talented tailbacks as it looks for a third straight win. Arkansas leads the NCAA in yards per carry (7.9) and ranks second in rushing yard a game (362).


NIU rushing defense


Key Statistics: Allowing 81 rushing yards a game


NIU’s defensive front has done a great job of stopping the run in wins against Presbyterian, Northwestern and UNLV. The Runnin’ Rebels (102 yards) are the only team to top 100 against the Huskies this season. But there’s no doubt NIU faces its biggest test today in an Arkansas ground game that has combined for 935 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns the past two weeks. NIU’s success in slowing the Razorbacks will go a long way in determining whether they can pull off an upset.


EDGE: Arkansas ground game


POSITION MATCHUPS


Quarterbacks


UA’s Brandon Allen has only thrown 17 passes the past two games; NIU’s Drew Hare has replaced Jordan Lynch and is playing well, throwing for 494 yards and 6 TDs


Edge: NIU


Running Backs


Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams combined for 357 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns last week; NIU’s Cameron Stingily ran for 102 yards at UNLV


Edge: Arkansas


Receivers


UA’s receivers have been asked to do much yet. Demetrius Wilson has a team-high 6 catches; NIU’s Da’Ron Brown has 19 catches for 357 yards and 4 TDs in 3 games.


Edge: NIU


O-Line


UA LT Dan Skipper had his best outing last week, while LG Sebastian Tretola got his first start; NIU’s veteran front has combined to play in 169 games with 116 starts.


Edge: Arkansas


D-Line


UA’s Taiwan Johnson and Darius Philon 8 TFL’s and 5 of the team’s 7 sacks this season; NIU DE Jason Meehan has collected at least one sack in six straight games.


Edge: Arkansas


Linebackers


UA’s Martrell Spaight and Brooks Ellis combined for 19 tackles, an INT and 4 PBUs last week; NIU’s Michael Santacaterina is tied for the team lead in tackles (18).


Edge: Arkansas


Secondary


UA freshman Henre’ Toliver earned his first start and grabbed his first INT at Texas Tech; NIU safety Marlon Moore has 18 tackle, an INT and two forced fumbles.


Edge: NIU


OVERALL: Arkansas 34, NIU 24