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Northern Colorado football: Prediction for UNC vs Northern Arizona



Northern Colorado football: Prediction for UNC vs Northern Arizona

The University of Northern Colorado (1-2) returns to Nottingham Field on Saturday to play Northern Arizona (1-2) in its Big Sky opener.

Both teams would like to start the conference slate with a win, but it could go either way. The Bears are looking for redemption after lackluster play against Lamar last week, while the Lumberjacks are coming off a win and want to maintain momentum.

Northern Colorado 18 – Northern Arizona 21

The Bears’ conference opener will likely be a close one that could swing either way, but UNC’s limited personnel may impact the team’s ability to grab the win.

Northern Colorado expects to be down about 25% of its players and several coaches due to COVID-19 protocols. The university believes these were false positives, but the affected players and coaches still have to quarantine and will not be available this week.

Graduate quarterback Dylan McCaffrey will be back, though. He was cleared this week after he was removed in the second half of the Houston Baptist game. Having McCaffrey and junior Conner Martin ready to go — as opposed to relying only on Martin — could give the offense some variety.

On paper, the teams look similar. Their average total offense hovers around 300 yards, the defenses log about 66 tackles per game and they both average more than 55 yards in penalties across the first three contests. They also struggle on fourth down.

UNC is stronger on its return game, sacks (10) and field goals. The NAU offense, however, is better when converting on third down, moving the chains 41% of the time.

Ultimately, the defenses should put together similar performances, so the result will likely come down to a little bit of luck, whichever offense gets into a rhythm, and the team that plays the hardest.

“I’m more concerned with us, the mistakes that we made previously, correcting those and just making sure we don’t make the same mistakes again,” UNC coach Ed McCaffrey said Wednesday during his weekly news conference. “I think the effort will be there. I think our guys have a good attitude, good mindset … but it also takes execution of the plays that we’re calling offensively. It takes making plays on defense in crucial moments when we need them.”

Predictions for games around the Big Sky

Sacramento State 18 – Idaho State 21Cal Poly 18 – Montana 32Montana State 38 – Portland State 24UC Davis 35 – Weber State 30Eastern Washington 45 – Southern Utah 28

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