Northwestern-Duke, Illinois-Western Kentucky, NIU-EIU previews, picks

A quick look at Saturday’s games involving local teams (see Notre Dame preview here):

NORTHWESTERN AT DUKE

The facts: 11 a.m., ESPNU, 720-AM.

The records: Northwestern 1-0, Duke 1-0.

Justin Jackson and the Wildcats will try to make the best of their physical edge against Duke. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The storyline: The Blue Devils must feel like they’re due against NU, which has beaten them two years in a row. David Cutcliffe is one of the most respected coaches in the country, and his quarterback, Daniel Jones, is a good one. For what it’s worth: Duke beat outmanned North Carolina Central by 53 in Week 1, while NU struggled to put away Nevada. Still, the Wildcats seem to be in a better place physically. Bigger? Check. Stronger? Check. Better? Should be.

The line: Wildcats by 3.

Greenberg’s pick: Northwestern, 24-16.

EASTERN ILLINOIS
AT NORTHERN ILLINOIS

The facts: 2:30 p.m., ESPN3, 560-AM.

The records: EIU 1-0, NIU 0-1.

The storyline: Is EIU catching the Huskies while they’re down? It was a tough way to lose last week, watching a game-tying field goal attempt hit the crossbar in the closing seconds against Boston College. Now NIU goes from an ACC foe to an FCS foe — and the Panthers are no run-of-the-mill FCS program. The last time these two played, in 2013, a star Panthers quarterback named Jimmy Garoppolo nearly led what would’ve been a major upset. NIU isn’t quite what it was then.

The line: N/A.

Greenberg’s pick: NIU, 38-21.

WESTERN KENTUCKY AT ILLINOIS

The facts: 7 p.m., BTN, 670-AM.

The records: WKU 1-0, Illinois 1-0.

The storyline: Let’s start by pointing out that WKU, as good as it has been in recent years, is 0-for-6 in games against Big Ten opponents. Even a strong 2014 Hilltoppers squad was unable to win against the Illini in Champaign. Does that mean Lovie Smith’s team has a legit chance? Sure it does. But the Illini will have to be better than they were in Week 1 against Ball State. As opponents go, Ball State and WKU aren’t even close.

The line: Hilltoppers by 8.

Greenberg’s pick: WKU, 34-27.

Follow me on Twitter @slgreenberg.

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com

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