Coastal Carolina and Northern Illinois meet in Cure Bowl
Cure Bowl: Northern Illinois (9-4) against Coastal Carolina (10-2), Dec. 17, 6:00 p.m. Eastern (ESPN 2).
Line: Coastal Carolina by 10½, according to FanDuel Sportsbook (https://sportsbook.fanduel.com/navigation/ncaaf).
Series record: First meeting.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Coastal Carolina is looking to match its school FBS record of 11 wins, set last year (11-1). Northern Illinois is trying to win the MAC championship game and a bowl game in the same season for just the second time. The Huskies did it in 2011.
Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall, the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year in 2020 and 2021, against a NIU defense that has given up 32.7 points and 447.7 yards a game this season. McCall’s efficiency rating of 207.95 is well ahead of the pace to break the FBS record of 203.06 that Alabama’s Mac Jones set last year.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Northern Illinois: MAC Freshman of the Year Jay Ducker rushed for 146 yards on 29 carries in the MAC championship game to surpass the 1,000-yard mark for the season. He needs six yards to break the Huskies’ 44-year old freshman rushing record.
Coastal Carolina: Wide receiver Jaivon Heiligh has 1,034 receiving yards this season and is just 44 away from the school single-season record held by former NFL receiver Jerome Simpson (1,077).
FACTS & FIGURES
Northern Illinois quarterback Rocky Lombardi came to NIU after making nine starts in 22 games over three seasons at Michigan State. He has 2,416 passing yards, which is the most for the Huskies in a single season since 2014. … Both teams feature strong running games. Northern Illinois ranks fifth nationally (234.2 yards a game), while Coastal Carolina is sixth (231.3). … NIU is the first team in FBS history to win its conference championship game one season after going winless (0-6). … Since the start of the 2020 season, Coastal Carolina has lost just three games by a combined eight points. … Northern Illinois won four games this year by two points or less. … Coastal Carolina played in its first bowl game last season, losing 37-34 in overtime to Liberty at the Cure Bowl. … NIU’s roster has just seven seniors, and includes 71 players who graduated from high school in 2020 or 2021.