2021 Cure Bowl: Coastal Carolina Squares Off Against Northern Illinois

The opening night of the bowl season brings a power-packed Group of 5 match-ups in the 2021 Tailgreeter Cure Bowl. The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers return to the Cure Bowl to take on the 2021 MAC Champion Northern Illinois Huskies.

Mullets, Mauling, And Joey Chestnut

Led by Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina has reached historic heights as a program these past two seasons. The Chanticleers are a combined 21-3 in the regular season. Chadwell has been a popular name that has been referenced for almost every job opening in this most recent coaching carousel. But it appears Chadwell will be back on the sidelines moving forward.

Chadwell can be found sporting the same mullet that has become a staple look for the boys from Conway, SC. And this team is definitely all business in the front. All but three of their wins were by 10 or more points. Coastal Carolina averaged 40.4 points per game, good for 13th in the country. They have a very balanced offensive attack. Coastal averages 261.8 passing and 231.3 rushing yards per game. Their total of 493.1 yards ranks 7th-best in the FBS.

Will the 2021 Cure Bowl get to see one of Coastal’s famous post-game celebrations? During Coastal’s 2020 cinderella run last season, everyone got to see the party in the back of those mullets when they celebrated each victory. With each new victory, the celebration videos become more and more elaborate. But nothing will top the latest guest to join the post-game party. All-American professional eater Joey Chestnut staged a pizza-eating contest with the Chants.

Last To First

Northern Illinois went 0-6 in a shortened 2020 season. But the Huskies wasted no time in turning the program around. Guided by head coach Thomas Hammock, the Huskies bounced back to with a 9-4 mark and its first MAC conference title since 2018. They have an opportunity to get to double-digit wins for only the eighth time in program history.

The Huskies do their offensive damage by controlling the line of scrimmage. Overall, they average 422.2 yards per game. This is spearheaded by the nation’s 5th best rushing attack, averaging 234.3 rushing yards per game. NIU also is in no rush to get off the field once they have the ball. The Huskies’ average 33:03 in time of possession, which ranks tenth nationally. They are one of just four teams to have held the ball for over 425 minutes on the season.

Defensively, the Huskies leave much to be desired. For the season, they have surrendered an average of 32.7 points and allowed 447.8 yards per game. However, even as mediocre as the defense has been, the Huskies achieved great heights this season. NIU has been an underdog in almost every game they have played this season and found themselves lifting the MAC trophy at the end of it. They certainly are capable of beating this Coastal Carolina team at the 2021 Cure Bowl.

Players To Know

QB Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina: McCall is the nation’s most efficient passer. He averages over 12 yards per throw with 23 touchdown passes and just three picks. McCall was dealing with an injury for much of the year, but in his last three games, he has also averaged 14 carries for 57 rushing yards to go with outstanding passing efficiency.

TE Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina: One of McCall’s favorite targets, Likely is a matchup nightmare for linebackers. The 6’4” tight end projects as a day-two prospect in the NFL draft thanks to his precise route running and speed to complement his size.

LB Silas Kelly, Coastal Carolina: The fifth-year senior is a tone-setting for the defense. While he is better as a run stopper, he can get into the backfield when needed. This defensive leader is the team’s leading tackler with 96 tackles, including 8 TFLs.

QB Rocky Lombardi, Northern Illinois: The former Michigan State quarterback ran for eight touchdowns and had a few huge passing games. The stand-out game came against their first meeting against Kent State when he threw for 532 yards. The game script will ultimately decide what is asked out of him, but he is capable of getting into a shootout if necessary.

RB Jay Ducker, Northern Illinois: Ducker headlines a backfield that had five running backs rush for over 400 yards this season. Ducker led the team with 1,038 and if the Huskies expect to keep up with Coastal’s offense, Ducker will need to have his fifth game of the season eclipsing over 140 yards rushing.

S CJ Brown, Northern Illinois: The second-year freshman was a tackling cyborg. While he was only able to register just one interception, he often played as an extra linebacker against the run. He led the team with 104 tackles. Brown is listed only at 5-11 and 192 pounds but will stick a facemask in the chest of any ball carrier.

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2021 Cure Bowl Prediction

Coastal Carolina certainly believes they have a quarterback who should have been up in New York last week for the Heisman trophy presentation. But without a real national stage to play on, coupled with McCall’s injury, he never had a chance to build any momentum. The Chanticleers and Huskies though will have all college football eyes on them for this 2021 Cure Bowl. Both teams want to rely on the rushing attacks, so this game could be over in under three hours. Even if the game moves quickly, the scoreboard operator still will be busy. The Huskies have risen to multiple challenges this year, but Coastal Carolina proves to be too much in the end.

Coastal Carolina 42 Northern Illinois 28