BYU, Western Michigan Find Valuable Info In Common Opponent

Dec 20, 2018, 4:46 PM
Brigham Young Cougars running back Matt Hadley runs the ball against the Northern Illinois Huskies ...
Brigham Young Cougars running back Matt Hadley runs the ball against the Northern Illinois Huskies during NCAA football in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)
(Ravell Call, Deseret News)

BOISE, Idaho – To better understand how each other plays, the BYU and Western Michigan players and coaches are looking at their common opponent, Northern Illinois.

Both teams played the Huskies this season and had dramatically different results.

Cougars Played NIU In Defensive Battle

BYU lost to the Huskies on October 27, 7-6, in possibly the ugliest game of the Cougars’ season. The Cougars managed just two made field goals while NIU quarterback Marcus Childers’ 1 yard TD run in the third quarter was enough to win the game.

Yet, according to Western Michigan head coach Jim Lester, it was a fun game to watch.

“You have to enjoy college football to see a 7-6 game, I loved it. It was an awesome game to watch and it was a defense-dominated game,” said Lester.

Lester added that while it is unique and interesting that the two teams played the same team earlier in the year, that it probably won’t have much of an impact on Friday’s matchup.

“I wish it meant something more, I don’t think it does because every game day is different,” said Lester.

Broncos Closed Out Regular Season With Win Over NIU

The Broncos had much better fortune against NIU, defeating the Huskies 28-21 in their final game of the regular season.

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake watched not only that game, but every game of Western Michigan’s season in preparation.

“We looked at every game,” stated Sitake. “With all that time for preparing, we watched every game and did our scouting report on them. So I think that every matchup is different. That’s something we can really draw on, the common opponent. Our players know that type of program and that Western Michigan is a really good program and we have to be ready for them”

Cougars, Huskies Look Similar To Western Michigan

The similarities between the Cougars and NIU came across as compliments as both Lester and his players talked on the two teams at a press conference Thursday afternoon in Boise.

“I really think BYU is similar to Northern (Illinois) as far as their defense is special, it’s a great group. They make you earn everything you get, I think both have given up 20 or less points a game, which in the modern day of football is amazing,” said Lester.

His players agree.

Broncos junior linebacker Alex Grace also sees common ground in how BYU and NIU play on offense and saw several similar factors in the Bronco defense’s preparation.

“We kind of compared them to Northern Illinois. They have an athletic quarterback, good solid running backs, some bigger guys on the outside and a pretty experienced offensive line. We just reallyl focused on keeping that quarterback contained because he can move pretty well,” said Grace.

Yet, it was Broncos junior running back LeVante Bellamy who summarized the common opponent storyline best.

“Nobody cares what you did against Northern Illinois, because now you got to do it against BYU,” said Bellamy.

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BYU, Western Michigan Find Valuable Info In Common Opponent