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Northern Illinois vs. San Diego State football: Time, TV schedule, game preview, score

San Diego State has won 25 of its last 28 games overall

San Diego State (10-3) won the Mountain West championship and will play Cincinnati in the Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24.
San Diego State (10-3) won the Mountain West championship and will play Cincinnati in the Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24. (Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO – At 4-0 and ranked No. 21 nationally, San Diego State owns the second-highest rank among teams outside the Power Five.

The Aztecs will put that unblemished record and poll position on the line Saturday night when they host Northern Illinois, which will be looking for its second marquee road win after knocking off Nebraska 21-17 two weeks ago in Lincoln.

San Diego State has won 25 of its last 28 games overall, including back-to-back wins over the Pac-12’s Arizona State (30-20) and then-No. 19 Stanford (20-17) earlier this month. And after opening Mountain West play last Saturday with a 28-24 victory at Air Force, the Aztecs are now set for their first home game as a nationally ranked team since 1995. “(Being ranked in the) top 25 is recognition, but at the same time, it’s a target,” San Diego State safety Parker Baldwin said Tuesday.

“It’s like a warrant for your arrest – everybody is coming for you – and Northern Illinois is definitely going to want to knock us off, especially after they knocked off Nebraska two weeks ago.” In between, the Mid-American Conference team had a bye week so the Huskies are sure to be rested and ready for their non-conference finale Saturday.

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, CBS SportsNet. LINE: San Diego State -11

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ABOUT NORTHERN ILLINOIS (2-1):

The Huskies opened the season with a narrow 23-20 loss at Boston College but have since followed with a home blowout of FCS foe Eastern Illinois (38-10) and the 21-17 win at Nebraska, in which Northern Illinois returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns in the opening quarter and then scored the winning TD in the fourth after the Cornhuskers had taken a 17-14 lead. Including a win over Kent State last season, sophomore Daniel Santacaterina is 3-0 as the starting quarterback and has completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 380 yards, three scores and an interception since taking over for injured starter Ryan Graham during the loss to Boston College. Defensively, the Huskies have allowed only 50 points, have intercepted six passes and feature the FBS leader in tackles for loss in defensive end Sutton Smith, who has 9.5, including three sacks.

ABOUT SAN DIEGO STATE (4-0):

Senior running back Rashaad Penny notched his fourth straight 100-yard rushing game with 128 yards and a career high-matching three TDs against Air Force and ranks second nationally in rushing yards per game (179.0), all-purpose yards (230.0) and total TDs (nine). Penny’s presence has opened passing windows for quarterback Christian Chapman, who has completed 66.7 percent of his attempts for 660 yards, five scores and one interception. Baldwin (28) and fellow safety Trey Lomax (25) are the leading tacklers for a defense, which ranks in the top 35 nationally in points (19.5), passing (167.3) and total yards (291) allowed while standing 15th with a plus-1.25 average turnover margin.

EXTRA POINTS

1. San Diego State has won all five games in the series, including a 42-28 road victory last season in which Donnel Pumphrey ran for 220 yards and three TDs.

2. The Aztecs are 4-0 for the first time since 1981 and only the second time in the program’s last 42 seasons.

3. San Diego has won 34 straight games when rushing for 200 or more yards and will be up against a Huskies defense ranked 24th in the FBS at 97.7 yards per game.