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Notre Dame College Football 2024: 5 Things to Know About Northern Illinois, Week 2

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Notre Dame College Football 2024: 5 Things to Know About Northern Illinois, Week 2


Beware of the letdown.

Notre Dame started the 2022 season at Ohio State and fought the good fight in a 21-10 loss that was far better and tougher than the final score.

The Buckeyes came within a missed walk-off field goal of almost certainly winning the national title, and the Irish held CJ Stroud and company to just those 21 points. One week later, Marshall walked into South Bend, scored 26, and left town with a fat check and a stunning upset win.

This year, Notre Dame starts out the season against Texas A&M in what should be a whale of a fight in College Station. But there’s no need to worry about Northern Illinois a week later, right? It’s just a MAC team, and it’s not even a great one this season like Miami University likely will be.

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The RedHawks come into town two weeks later on the Irish slate, there’s a road game at Purdue to prepare for in Week 3, and …

Northern Illinois 27, Boston College 24. That was the 2023 season opener.

In 2021, NIU beat Georgia Tech, the 2017 team shocked Nebraska, and the 2015 version balled out against a LOADED Ohio State team in a 20-13 loss.

Again, beware of the letdown, Irish.

The 5 things you need to know about the Huskies, Irish fans, are …

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NIU’s biggest strength should be a deep and experienced group of targets that just got a little bit better.

Grayson Barnes is a dangerous tight end who can stretch the field, Trayvon Rudolph led the team with 51 grabs, and Arkansas-Pine Bluff transfer Kenji Lewis averaged 23 yards per catch at his former school. However …

Northern Illinois has traditionally been about a grinding ground game. It has been a long, long time since a Huskie O finished the season with the quarterbacks completing over 60% of their throws – it was 2015.

The Irish can take their chances that NIU won’t hit the short-range shots and worry about the deep plays and third down opportunities.

If there’s a pass rush on this year’s NIU defense, it probably won’t get going here.

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The 2023 Huskie defense was good overall, and the 23 sacks weren’t awful, but 15 of them came in four games against bad offensive lines. Northern Illinois might have the best secondary in the MAC, but it won’t matter much if Irish QB Riley Leonard has time.

The Irish should be able to strike quickly and won’t care too much about controlling the clock, but if they can lean on the offensive front to pound out a few long drives, all will be okay.

Last year’s NIU team lived on control and time of possession, and it’ll be more of the same. But bad things happened when the defense got plowed on, going 0-5 when allowing 180 yards or more. It all ties together – run, don’t let the NIU offense get control and make it have to throw.

There’s no need to take a bunch of chances here, and focus will mean everything. It might seem basic, but don’t lose the turnover battle, control the clock, and don’t get hit with a ton of penalties.

How did Northern Illinois beat Boston College last season? The Eagles hit just 45% of their passes, they let the game stay close throughout, and ten penalties for 93 yards were a killer.

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That, and the Huskies had the ball for almost 37 minutes.

Early Summer Notre Dame vs Northern Illinois Prediction
This can and will change when we do this for real when the season starts. Call this the soft-opening first call. The Irish lines will overwhelm the Huskies, but it’ll take about a half to get comfortable.

Notre Dame 38, Northern Illinois 13
Full breakdown of Northern Illinois here in the 2024 season preview

Notre Dame and the Expanded College Football Playoff: No Bye? No Problem



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Illinois

Illinois Grabs Ole Miss WR Zakhari Franklin From Transfer Portal

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Illinois Grabs Ole Miss WR Zakhari Franklin From Transfer Portal


The Illinois Fighting Illini lost two of their top receivers to the NFL last season.

On Thursday night, they picked up a solid replacement. Ole Miss receiver Zakhari Franklin announced via Twitter that he has committed to the Fighting Illini. He could emerge as the top target for quarterback Luke Altmyer.

Last year he caught four passes for 38 yards and a touchdown. He was unable to recover from an early-season injury before falling out of the rotation. Before Oxford, Franklin was a standout at University of Texas-Antonio. He was one of the best receivers in Conference USA, compiling back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2021 and 2022.

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Franklin has one year of eligibility left.

FORMER ILLINI BASKETBALL CLEARED OF RAPE CHARGES

Former Illinois guard Terrence Shannon can now once again focus on basketball.

On Thursday, Shannon was found not guilty of rape charges, stemming from allegations last September in Lawrence, Kan. Shannon, who was an All-Big Ten selection last season, is projected as a first-round pick a few weeks from now in the NBA Draft.

Ex-Illini teammate Coleman Hawkins had much to say about the case being settled, sharing a heartfelt message on X.

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“Not celebrating because I know who my guy is… imagine playing in front of sell out crowds with people saying the craziest things to you and you’re innocent,” Hawkins wrote. “Extremely proud of my guy to be able to block out all that noise and compete at an extremely high level.”

Shandel Richardson is the publisher of Illini Now. He can be reached at shandelrich@gmail.com





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Illinois reacts to Supreme Court’s mifepristone ruling

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Illinois reacts to Supreme Court’s mifepristone ruling


ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The Supreme Court decided against hearing a case on banning a common abortion medication, and some Illinois politicians and advocacy groups had responses to the ruling.

All justices agreed the plaintiffs don’t have the legal right to sue. They did not rule on the merits.

Planned Parenthood of Illinois is pleased they can still offer the medication to its patients.

“The FDA approved mifepristone more than 20 years ago, and it has since been used by more than five million people to safely end an early pregnancy,” Jennifer Welch, the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said. “Medication abortion with mifepristone and misoprostol is the most common abortion procedure across the nation, which means PPIL patients can continue choosing their preferred method of care.”

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Illinois Right to Life criticized the Biden administration for allowing widespread use

“This is an incredibly disappointing ruling by the Supreme Court,” Mary Kate Zander, Executive Director of Illinois Right to Life, said. “The Biden Administration has allowed the distribution of chemical abortion to go largely unchecked, even to the extent that women can order it to be delivered to their homes without the oversight of a doctor. This is a dangerous drug that’s virtually unregulated and a growing threat to women’s health and safety.” 

The anti-abortion group also cited a 2021 study which found 20 deaths, 529 life-threatening injuries, and 1,957 injuries occurred from the medication.

Democratic Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker called the decision a “small victory” and hopes the voters are motivated to show up at the polls in November.

“We know that unless we remain vigilant, this ruling will only be a temporary roadblock to MAGA extremists waging war against women’s rights,” Pritzker said. “To fully protect reproductive freedom, we must ensure MAGA extremists never again control the White House or Congress.”

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Chicago beach ranked best Illinois location for Summer Solstice sunrise

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Chicago beach ranked best Illinois location for Summer Solstice sunrise


North Avenue Beach has been ranked as the top location in Illinois to witness the sunrise on the Summer Solstice, according to a recent survey by Mixbook.

The survey, which included responses from 3,000 participants, highlighted personal experiences to identify the best spots across the nation for this annual event.

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North Avenue Beach was particularly praised for its picturesque view of the sunrise over Lake Michigan, providing a striking contrast between natural beauty and the urban skyline.

Starved Rock State Park and Navy Pier were also noted as prime Illinois locations, ranking second and third in the state, respectively.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – JUNE 22: An aerial view from a drone shows a deserted North Avenue Beach on June 22, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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The survey ranked the top 150 locations in America to watch the sunrise during the Summer Solstice. The top spot went to Lake Tahoe, Nevada, renowned for its beautiful sunrise views over the clear blue waters and surrounding mountains.

“Experiencing the Summer Solstice sunrise marks new beginnings and invites us to appreciate life’s beauty. We hope this list inspires you to start summer with a moment of appreciation for the world around us,” Leslie Albertson, Head of Brand at Mixbook, said in a statement.

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The Summer Solstice, which falls on June 20, marks the longest day of the year and the official beginning of summer.

Check out the full survey, HERE.



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