NIU senior Jimmie Ward has been named to SI.com's Mid-Season All-America team. The Huskies' strong safety from Mobile, Ala. leads the nation with five interceptions, and leads the Huskies in tackles with 50. He has 35 solo stops, two pass break-ups, a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery.
Ward has intercepted a pass in each of NIU's last four games but his biggest pickoff of the year may have been the first one versus Iowa. With 1:24 to play and the game tied at 27-all, Ward jumped an out route, made a one-handed interception (due to the cast on his left hand) and returned the ball 20 yards to the Iowa 30. His play set up a game-winning field goal by the Huskies' Mathew Sims.
Against Purdue, Ward returned an interception on a similar play 62 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. While covering All-America candidate Dri Archer during most of the Kent State game, Ward had an interception in the end zone and recovered a fumble.
The Huskies are 4-0 and ranked 23rd in the country in the USA Today Coaches' Poll and with that record comes some great national publicity for the NIU program and its players, especially Heisman Trophy candidate Jordan Lynch. In case you've missed any of the national mentions this week, here's a recap to some of them with links.
Ivan Maisel podcast (talks NIU as BCS Buster at 18 minute mark)
Gene Wojciehowski column (brief mentions for NIU, Lynch under Tailgating and First Quarter headers)
Pat Forde column (lists NIU-Iowa as most under-rated game of September)
Campus Union (under "Three Up" props for Jimmie Ward as one of top defenders in the country)
Charles Davis' Heisman Watch Video (Jordan Lynch)
In addition, Lynch and the Huskies have been the subject of some national radio chatter. Following the Purdue win, Jordan was interviewed live by Yahoo!Sports Radio and CBS Radio, and during the past week, the Huskies have come up on the Dan Patrick Show, Sirius XM College Sports (Monday and Tuesday nights) and ESPN Radio. Lynch was on the air with Chris Childers of Sirius XM and Freddie Coleman of ESPN Radio this week.
Keep watching this space, like NIU Huskies on Facebook and follow @NIUAthletics and @LynchFor6 on Twitter for all of the links to news on NIU Football.
Women's Soccer: Northern Illinois began MAC play over the weekend with the team touring Michigan. First up was Eastern Michigan on Friday, a 4-1 loss for the Huskies. On Sunday, NIU took on Western Michigan, which also ended in a loss for the Huskies, this one being a 4-2 final.
Men's Soccer: The Huskies played just a single game, which was on Saturday against Michigan State. They lost 2-0 to the opposing Spartans, falling to 3-6-0 on the season. NIU has just two more non-conference games left in the season, and the team will begin conference play this upcoming weekend against West Virginia.
Football: Northern Illinois traveled to Purdue for its third away game this season. The Huskies came home victorious in a 55-24 final. The game was close after the first quarter, but after 38 points combined in the second and third quarters, the Huskies were comfortably ahead to the point where they brought in backups to finish the game.
Volleyball: NIU played two games over the week. The first was at Western Michigan on Thursday, in which the Huskies came back from down two sets to one to win 3-2. The second was at Bowling Green, where the team lost in straight sets, 3-0.
Cross Country: NIU attended the Roger Griak Invitional in Minnesota on Saturday. The Huskies finished 27th overall. Ali Olson had the best finish on the team, ending her race in 151st place out of 300 competitors.
Men's Golf: Northern Illinois competed in the Badger Invitational, held at the University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wis. The team finished 13th overall, and they were lead by Nick Huggins, who tied for 33rd overall. Huggins had a three-round total of 226, his best round coming to open the invitational when he shot a 73.
Women's Golf: The Huskies competed in the Kangaroo Invitational, held at the Shoal Creek Golf Club in Kansas City, Mo. They finished fourth out of the nine competing teams, being just five strokes behind third place UKMC. Casey LaBarbera lead NIU with a three-round total of 232, her best round being the second when she shot a 74.
Football: NIU improved to 3-0 after a tight 43-39 victory against the Eastern Illinois Panthers. The Huskies were down 20-0 mid-way through the first quarter, but a 30-0 run by the team propelled them to the 22nd straight home victory for NIU.
Men's Soccer: Northern Illinois played two games last weekend in the Northwestern Lakeside Classic. The first was a 2-1 loss against Farleigh Dickinson on Friday. In the second game against Saint Mary's on Sunday, NIU was able to reverse the result from Friday and claim its own 2-1 victory.
Women's Soccer: The Huskies closed out non-conference play when they traveled to Chicago for a match against the Loyola Chicago Ramblers. The game ended in a 1-0 loss for NIU, making it five straight games in which the Huskies have failed to record a win. NIU is now 2-5-1 on the season.
Men's Tennis: Northern Illinois competed in the Drake Invitational with seven other teams. The team was able to take one of the four flights in the event. The Huskies also went undefeated in consolation matches. On the first day, one doubles team was able to make it to the final round of the flight before falling.
Men's Golf: NIU played in the Wolf Run Intercollegiate, held in Zionsville, Ind. The team finished 14th overall after three rounds of play. Pierrick Fillon had the best performance for the Huskies, producing a three-round total of 236. His best round was the third, in which he scored a 75.
Volleyball: The Huskies went unbeaten in the Huskie Invitational volleyball tournament held over the weekend. The team went 3-0 to improve to 8-6 overall. On Friday, NIU beat George Washington 3-0 and IPFW 3-1. On Saturday, the Huskies swept Oakland, 3-0.
Volleyball - The Huskies played four matches over the last week, going 1-3 in those affairs. Their record now stands at 5-6 on the season. The win came against Southern Utah in the New Mexico State tournament. NIU featured a balanced offensive attack in that one, with Jenna Radtke, Sarah Angelos, and Mackenzie Roddy each having more than 10 kills in all.
Men's Soccer - Northern Illinois split two games in the NIU Adidas Invitational, falling 1-0 against Butler on Friday, but winning 2-1 against Green Bay on Sunday. Sean Totsch and Jayson LeSeth each had goals in the win against the Green Bay Phoenix. The Huskies are now 2-4-0 on the season.
Women's Soccer - NIU went 0-1-1 on the weekend, dropping the first game at Green Bay 1-0 and tying Western Illinois in a home game, 1-1. Cori Frankenberg scored her second goal of the season in the game against WIU. NIU is now 2-4-1.
Men's Tennis - Northern Illinois pulled down the best team score in the River Forest Invitational. Jovan Zeljkovic won both flights he took part in; the #4 Singles and #3 Doubles. In that doubles bracket, he teamed up with Matt Lynch. The Huskies also had several players finish third in their flights.
Women's Tennis - Arantza de la Torre and Cristina Alvarez both won flights in the Chicago State Invitational. The team also had other players and doubles teams who finished third or better in their flights. The Huskies don't have another event until the first weekend of October.
Cross Country - The Huskies finished fourth in the Illinois State Invitational on Friday, held at the Weibring Golf Course in Normal, Ill. Ali Olson produced the best finish for NIU, taking 16h place in the event. She had a time of 18:19.24 as she crossed the finish line.
Women's Golf - NIU competed in the Cougar Classic, hosted by Chicago State at Harborside International Golf Center. Play ran on Monday and Tuesday earlier this week. Samantha Coyne faired best for the Huskies, finishing eighth among individual players. As a team, the Huskies placed seventh overall.
Volleyball: NIU played three matches over the week, going 2-1 to improve its record to 4-3 on the season. On Wednesday, the Huskies played a back-and-forth match against Western Illinois and won in five sets. On Saturday, NIU faced No. 3 USC and dropped the match in four sets. Later that day, the Huskies took on Belmont and won in four sets. Also of note is that Sarah Angelos became the 20th member of the Huskie 1000-kill club with her performances in those matches.
Women's Soccer: NIU traveled to Brookings S.D. for two games at the Jackrabbit Invitational. They ended up losing both. On Friday, it was a 3-1 loss against South Dakota in which Nicole Gobbo scored her second goal of the season. On Sunday, a late header from opposing South Dakota State sealed a 2-1 defeat for the Huskies.
Men's Soccer: The Huskies faced stiff competition in Bearcat Soccer Classic held in Cincinnati, Ohio over the weekend. Both games ended in overtime losses. The first was a 3-2 loss against Evansville on Friday. On Sunday, they took on No. 14 Saint Louis and lost 1-0. An interesting bit here is that in the second game, the Huskies played man down for more than half of the game and were able to hold the opposition scoreless until a second overtime period.
Cross Country: The Huskies took first their first cross country meet in dominating fashion, taking six of the first seven finish spots. Held at the NIU North 40 on Friday, NIU had all but two runners place in the top 14. Leah Laffety had the best time, crossing the finish line at 19:29.85.
Men's Golf: NIU finished 15th in the first golf
tournament of the year, held at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill. Nick
Huggins had the best single round of Huskie golfers, posting a 74 (+2) in the
second round on Saturday.
Women's Golf: NIU placed 13th as a team in the Redbird Invitational, hosted by Illinois State University at the Weibring Golf Club. Sydney Brickey had the best scores for the huskies (76, 82, 79), scoring 237 overall.