Quick Lane Bowl
Duke (6-6) vs. Northern Illinois (8-4)
5:15 p.m. ET, Dec. 26 (ESPN)
Duke -5.5, O/U 47
HOW THESE TEAMS GOT HERE
Duke: How about a losing streak sandwich? Duke started the season 4-0 with wins over Northwestern (still impressive), Baylor (not impressive any longer) and North Carolina (same as Baylor). Given the name quality of those opponents and the way Duke beat them — by a combined 48 points — the Blue Devils were going to surprise the ACC, right?
Not really. Duke lost six-straight games after that North Carolina win. The most inexplicable was a 24-17 home loss to a Pitt team that missed a bowl game. After a loss to Army that dropped Duke to 4-6, the Blue Devils came back and beat Georgia Tech and Wake Forest to get to .500.
Northern Illinois: The Huskies’ win over Nebraska in Week 3 led to the demise of Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst and put NIU at 2-1. The Huskies lost the following week to San Diego State but then reeled off a four-game MAC win streak. Losses to Toledo and Central Michigan, however, denied NIU an opportunity to play for the MAC title.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Brittain Brown, RB, Duke: As the freshman goes, so go the Blue Devils? Brown has 117 carries for 660 yards and six touchdowns in 2017. In Duke’s six-game losing streak he had 40 carries for 186 yards and two touchdowns. In Duke’s 23-point win over Georgia Tech he had 14 carries for 116 yards. If he breaks loose against the Huskies, it should be a good sign for the Blue Devils.
Marcus Childers, QB, NIU: Childers emerged as NIU’s starting quarterback after the San Diego State loss. Daniel Santacaterina, who opened the season as the starter, announced earlier this month that he’s transferring to FCS school Southeast Missouri State. Childers is 137-239 passing for 1,440 yards and 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s also the Huskies’ second-leading rusher with 454 yards and five touchdowns.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH
Uh, because it’s a football game? This may not be the prettiest bowl game — neither offense classifies as explosive — but coaches Rod Carey and David Cutcliffe should have their teams well-prepared.
WHAT’S ON THE LINE
Bragging rights! Duke and Northern Illinois have never played each other. A win for Duke is its first since winning the Pinstripe bowl after the 2015 season. That game was the Blue Devils’ first win since the Cotton Bowl after the 1960 season. Northern Illinois hasn’t won a bowl game since the 2011 GoDaddy Bowl. Yeah, that’s a four-bowl losing streak.
Nick: Duke 20, NIU 16
Sam: Duke 27, NIU 24
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