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Early Kentucky Football Preview: Northern Illinois

Kentucky loves to schedule the MAC.

2021 Cure Bowl - Northern Illinois v Coastal Carolina Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Greetings, BBN!

As we wait for the start of the 2022 Kentucky Wildcats football season, now’s a great time to look at the upcoming schedule and scout the opponents. This week we look at Week 4 as Kentucky faces the Northern Illinois Huskies from the Mid-American Conference.

Northern Illinois

  • When: September 24th
  • Where: Kroger Field
  • All-Time Series: First Meeting

Kentucky has never played Northern Illinois before. This continues a trend of Mark Stoops scheduling MAC teams, as they played Toledo and Eastern Michigan in 2019, Central Michigan in 2018, Eastern Michigan again in 2017, and will have by this time played Miami-OH in the 2022 opener.

Overall the Cats are 33-7-1 against MAC teams, with a higher win percentage against them than any other team in the conference. It has won 12 straight against the MAC since a 28-16 loss to Ohio in 2004, and recently, the only scare has been the 24-20 win over Eastern Michigan in 2017 where Mike Edwards intercepted a pass in the end zone as time expired.

So, milking this conference for wins has proved to be a pretty good strategy for UK.

The Huskies were pretty good last year, going 9-5 last year and taking the MAC Championship against Ohio but losing the Cure Bowl to Coastal Carolina. They also beat Georgia Tech in the season opener.

Still a much better season than 2020, though, in which they went 0-6. Fun fact about NIU—they’ve played 12 games against the SEC and are 1-11...but the one win came against Alabama!

Prediction: Cats win 31-21. Probably will be a bit tighter than we’d like, but they should control the game and come away with the win to hopefully be 4-0 before the Ole Miss road trip.