A 21-3 win charged by the defense led the Illinois State University football team over Eastern in the 108th Mid-America Classic. The win marked the second straight in the series for the Redbirds. Now 2-1, the ’Birds will welcome Northern Arizona University to Hancock Stadium Saturday wrapping up their non-conference schedule. Here are five things you need to know entering the matchup:
The two teams have only met one other time. The Lumberjacks won that matchup 37-16 at J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Arizona. That game saw Northern Arizona walk over the ISU defense putting up over 400 total offensive yards. The loss marked the first of the season for the Redbirds.
Big game James
After a rough first game against Northern Illinois, senior running back James Robinson has found his footing averaging over 160 yards in the two games since. Scoring three touchdowns in each game, Robinson’s six currently lead the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
No flight zone
ISU will look to get a struggling passing game going. The last three halves have been worrisome for senior quarterback Brady Davis. Since the start of the second half in week two against Morehead State, Davis has gone 6-18 throwing for just 37 yards. Facing a team that averages over 40 points a game, the Redbirds need to figure out the passing attack to match the Lumberjack’s production.
Northern Arizona hired a new head coach in Chris Ball prior to the season. The first-year head coach is the 30th in team history. With over 30 years of coaching experience before moving to NAU, Ball was last the defensive coordinator at Memphis University. Ball played defensive back for Missouri Western from 1982-1985. In 1986 after graduating, Ball served as the graduate assistant. Not even a year into his first coaching gig, he was hired by Northeast Missouri State. Since then his career has taken him to a variety of accomplished programs like Alabama, Washington State and Arizona State. In his first year he has led the Lumberjacks to a 2-1 start.
How to follow
The game, which begins at 6:30 p.m. at Hancock Stadium in Normal, will be available to watch live on ESPN+ to paid subscribers. Fans can also listen live on WJBC AM 1230/93.7 FM or follow along online at goredbirds.com.
Sports Editors Blaine Lewallen and Jake Sermersheim will be live-tweeting the game from @Vidette_Sports on Twitter. Live tweets can also be found on ISU football’s Twitter page, @RedbirdFB, throughout the game.