Jan. 2, 2012
2011 NORTHERN ILLINOIS HUSKIES FOOTBALL
2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl
Arkansas State (10-2, 8-0) at Northern Illinois (10-3, 7-1)
Jan. 8, 2012 | 8 p.m. (CT) | ESPN
DeKalb, Illinois | Huskie Stadium | 40,646
PDF of Complete Release
HUSKIE FOOTBALL FACTS
2011 Record/MAC Record: 10-3/7-1
2010 Record: 11-3
MAC (Regular Season) Record/Finish: 8-0/1st, West Division
Head Coach: Dave Doeren
Record at NIU & Career Record: 10-3/First Year
Alma Mater/Year: Drake/1994
Basic Offense/Defense: Multiple/4-3
First Year of Football: 1899
All-Time Record: 522-463-51
Last Bowl Game: NIU 40, Fresno State 17
2010 uDrove Humanitarian Bowl; Boise, Idaho
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 47/25
Starters Returning: 11 (8 offense, 3 defense, 0 specialists)
Starters Lost: 13 (4 offense, 9 defense, 3 specialists)
NORTHERN ILLINOIS FACTS
Location: DeKalb, Illinois
Affiliation: NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision
Conference: Mid-American (West Division)
Colors: Cardinal and Black
Stadium: Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium
Surface/Capacity: FieldTurf /24,000
President (Alma Mater, Year): Dr. John Peters (John Carroll 67)
Assoc. VP/Athletic Director: Jeff Compher
Alma Mater, Year: James Madison '80
Ticket Information: 815-752-6800
2011 NIU SCHEDULE
RED WOLVES' FACTS
2011 Record/MAC Record: 10-2/8-0
Interim Head Coach: David Gunn
Alma Mater/Year: Arkansas ‘87
Location: Jonesboro, Arkansas
Conference: Sun Belt
Colors: Scarlet and Black
Stadium: ASU Stadium
President: Dr. Charles L. Welch
Interim Chancellor: Dr. Dan Howard
Athletic Director: Dr. Dean Lee
Ticket Information: 870-972-2781
Athletics Website: www.astateredwolves.com
FB Media Relations Contact: Jerry Scott
Phone: 870-972-3405 (O); 870-243-6021 (C)
E-Mail Address: email@example.com
2011 ASU SCHEDULE
Overall: Northern Illinois leads 6-1
In DeKalb: Northern Illinois leads 3-1
In Jonesboro: Northern Illinois leads 3-0
In Big West Games: Northern Illinois leads 2-1
Streak: NIU, 1
Last Meeting: NIU 31, Arkansas State 30 (9-21-96)
First Meeting: NIU 35, Arkansas State 0 (10-13-90)
NIU HEAD COACH Dave Doeren
In his first season at the helm of the Northern Illinois Huskies, Dave Doeren has made his mark as the winningest first-year head coach in school history, and only the second NIU coach all-time to lead his team to a Mid-American Conference championship. Under his direction, Northern Illinois has won 10 games, including eight straight entering the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
A 16-year collegiate coaching veteran who has helped take teams to eight bowl games and two national championship contests as an assistant, Doeren was named the 21st head football coach in NIU history on Dec. 13, 2010 after completing his fifth season at Wisconsin with a trip to the 2011 Rose Bowl. During Doeren’s time at Wisconsin, the Badgers posted a 49-15 overall record and played in the Champs Sports Bowl (twice), Outback Bowl and Capital One Bowl.
In January of 2008, Doeren added defensive coordinator duties to his assignment as linebackers coach after spending his first two seasons in Madison as the Badgers’ co-defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator. The Shawnee Mission, Kansas native has also served on successful coaching staffs at Kansas (2002-05), Montana (2000-01), USC (1998-99) and Drake (1995-97), his alma mater. He began his coaching career at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School in Shawnee, Kansas.
His UW defenses were consistently ranked in the national top 25 in NCAA defensive categories. The 2010 Wisconsin defense ranked 20th in the country in total defense and in the Top 30 in both rushing and scoring defense. In 2009, Wisconsin led the Big Ten and ranked fifth in the country in rushing defense. The Badgers held each of their last 10 opponents in 2009 to less than 100 yards rushing, the longest streak in school history. Wisconsin led the nation in pass efficiency defense in 2006 and was the No. 2 scoring defense in the country.
His pupils at Wisconsin have included National Football League linebackers Jonathan Casillas of the New Orleans Saints and DeAndre Levy, the Detroit Lions’ middle linebacker. Badgers’ linebacker Chris Borland earned 2009 Big Ten Defensive Freshman of the Year honors.
Doeren arrived at Wisconsin after four seasons at the University of Kansas from 2002-05. He was the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator for three seasons before being promoted to co-defensive coordinator. The Jayhawks led the Big 12 Conference and ranked No. 3 nationally in rushing defense in 2005 and were 11th nationally in total defense.
Doeren coached the secondary at NCAA Division I-AA power Montana for two seasons and was the Grizzlies’ recruiting coordinator for one year. Montana won the I-AA national championship in 2001 and went 28-3 with two conference titles in Doeren’s two seasons there.
Doeren’s bowl experience goes back to his days as a graduate assistant at Southern California (USC) when the Trojans played in the 1998 Sun Bowl. The Trojans led the nation in interceptions that year with 24, while the 1999 squad led the nation in turnover margin.
He started his college coaching career as an assistant at Drake from 1995-97 where he coached linebackers before adding defensive coordinator chores in 1997. A four-year letterwinner at Drake (1990-93), Doeren earned Academic All-America honors as a senior and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in pre-medical biology and a master’s in educational leadership.
He and his wife, Sara, have three sons, Jacob, Luke and Connor.
WATCH the GoDaddy.com Bowl on ESPN
The GoDaddy.com Bowl match-up between Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State and the Mid-American Conference champion Huskies will air on ESPN as NIU will be featured on an ESPN network for the sixth consecutive game. Clay Matvick will handle play-by-play duties with former Florida State quarterback Danny Kanell serving as color analyst.
LISTEN on THE NIU RADIO NETWORK
The Northern Illinois Radio Network, presented by IMG College, will bring Huskie fans live game action on these stations in 2011:
WLBK AM 1360 (DeKalb) - FLAGSHIP
WTJK ESPN 1380 AM (Janesville, WI-Rockford)
WJOL 1340 AM (Joliet)
WSCR670 AM The Score (Chicago)
The broadcast begins with the pregame show 30 minutes prior to kickoff. Hall of Famer Bill Baker completes his 32nd football season as the play-by-play voice of NIU and is joined by Mark Lindo, in his 27th year as color analyst, and sixth-year sideline reporter Casey Kahler.
“NIU Weekly” Radio Show
Each week, join NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher, host Andy Garcia and Northern Illinois coaches for “NIU Weekly” on WSCR 670 AM The Score in Chicago. The 30-minute show features a weekly interview with head football coach Dave Doeren as well as interviews with other Huskie coaches and all the latest NIU Athletics news. The show will air every Saturday morning from 7:30-8 a.m.
Fans across the country can hear all NIU live radio broadcasts, including football games and “Inside Huskie Football,” live on Huskies All-Access at www.NIUHuskies.com. All-Access subscribers pay just $6.95/month or $49.95/year to receive all NIU radio game and show broadcasts, as well as select football and all home basketball, volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer games as well as home gymnastics and wrestling meets. Subscribers also have access to Coach Doeren’s weekly press conferences and special video features.
NIUHuskies.com Bowl Central
The best source for all of the latest news and information on the Northern Illinois football program and the Huskies’ bowl trip to Mobile, is the Bowl Central web page. From the Bowl Central site, link to videos, photo galleries, a GoDaddy.com Bowl blog, Mobile, GoDaddy Bowl and fan information and more. The football home page of the Huskies’ official athletics website includes links to the NIU bowl release.
NIU’S HARNISH HONORED AS NFF SCHOLAR-ATHLETE
On Dec. 6, NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish was honored as one of 16 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes at the 54th Annual NFF Awards Dinner in New York City. Harnish was a finalist for the prestigious 2011 William V. Campbell Trophy and spent two days in New York where he toured the city and met college football dignitaries and Hall of Famers. Harnish, who earned his undergraduate degree in business management from the NIU College of Business last spring with a 3.65 grade point average, is currently pursuing his M.B.A. He is the recipient of an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship. The NFF Scholar-Athletes were selected from a pool of 127 nominees in all classifications of college football for their combined athletic, academic and leadership skills. Harnish, who owns 23 Northern Illinois career and single season records, including many that stood for nearly 50 years, is the third student-athlete from Northern Illinois to be named an NFF Scholar-Athlete, joining Patrick Stephen (1998) and Josh Haldi (2004).
HUSKIE NEWS & NOTES
Northern Illinois concludes a championship season with a trip to Mobile, Ala. to take on Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. The Mid-American Conference Champion Huskies face the Sun Belt Conference Champion Red Wolves for the seventh time ever. The penultimate bowl game of 2011-12, the GoDaddy.com Bowl will be played Sunday, Jan. 8 at 8 p.m. (CT) in Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The contest will be televised by ESPN.
Four in a Row
Northern Illinois will conclude its season at a bowl game for the fourth consecutive season, the longest streak in Huskie history. In its last bowl outing, NIU defeated Fresno State, 40-17, in Boise, Idaho in last year’s uDrove Humanitarian Bowl. The Huskies played South Florida in the 2010 International Bowl in Toronto, Canada on January 2, 2010 at the end of the 2009 season. NIU began its current bowl streak at the 2008 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.
Northern Illinois is one of the most consistently successful programs among non-automatic qualifying Bowl Championship Subdivision (BCS) teams. NIU is one of only SEVEN teams from “non-AQ” BCS leagues to win six or more games in each of the last four seasons (since 2008). The others with that distinction are Air Force, TCU, BYU, Southern Miss, Hawaii and Boise State. The Huskies have won at least six games 11 times in the past 12 years dating back to 2000.
Northern Illinois defeated Ohio, 23-20, in the 2011 Marathon MAC Championship game at Ford Field in Detroit to earn its first Mid-American Conference Championship in 28 years. The Huskies’ title is the second MAC football crown in school history. NIU came back from a 20-0 deficit to win the game on a last-second field goal by kicker Mathew Sims.
On the Edge
Following its win in the Marathon MAC Championship game, Northern Illinois was ranked 26th in the final regular season USA Today Coaches’ Poll with 14 points and earned a season-best seven points in the Associated Press poll to rank 30th. Last year, NIU achieved season high rankings of 24th (AP) and 23rd (USA Today) in week 14 (Nov. 28). Following its Humanitarian Bowl win, the Huskies were ranked 29th and 26th, respectively.
Doeren’s Debut Season
Dave Doeren has led Northern Illinois to a 10-3 record to become the winningest first-year head coach in school history. Doeren is completing his first season as a head coach after 16 seasons as a collegiate assistant. The 21st head football coach in school history, and the 10th since Northern Illinois became a major college program in 1969, Doeren came to NIU after five seasons at Wisconsin (2006-10), where he was linebackers coach and defensive coordinator (see bio next page).
NIU enters the GoDaddy.com Bowl game riding an eight-game winning streak. A year ago, Northern Illinois had a nine-game winning streak snapped in the MAC title game. The 2002 and 2003 Huskies each won at least seven consecutive games during their 8-4 and 10-2 campaigns, respectively. NIU’s current win streak began Oct. 8 at home versus Kent State and has continued with MAC victories over Western Michigan, Buffalo, Toledo, Bowling Green, Ball State, Eastern Michigan and Ohio.
Huskie Bowl History
Northern Illinois is 3-3 in bowl games as a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team and the Huskies are 4-7 in bowl games all-time dating back to 1946. NIU’s win over Fresno State last year in the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl broke a three-game losing streak in bowl games (2006, 2008, 2009). Northern Illinois’ other FBS bowl win came in the 1983 California Bowl, by a 20-13 score over Cal State Fullerton. Prior to joining the “major college” ranks in 1969, NIU played in a Turkey Bowl (1946), a Refrigerator Bowl (1947) and three Mineral Water bowls (1962, ’63 and ’65).
Northern Illinois is playing in the postseason for the sixth time in the last seven seasons and will play a school-record 14 games for the second consecutive season. The Huskies are bowl eligible for the fourth straight season; NIU has won at least six games 11 times in the past 12 years dating back to 2000 and is the most successful NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision team in the state of Illinois during that time.
Latest Game and Longest Layoff
Northern Illinois will play a January game for the second time in school history while the Jan. 8 date of the GoDaddy.com Bowl is the latest in the season that NIU has ever competed. The Huskies’ only other January game was the International Bowl in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Jan. 2, 2010. This year’s 36-day layoff between the MAC Championship game on Dec. 2 and the Jan. 8 GoDaddy.com Bowl game is also the longest in school history, one day longer than the 35 days between games at the end of the 2009 season (Nov. 27-Jan. 2).
Northern Illinois and Arkansas State will meet for the eighth time when they play on Jan. 8 in Mobile. The teams played every year from 1990-96, including three times as members of the Big West Conference from 1993-95. The Huskies have won six of the seven series meetings, including the last one, a 31-30 NIU victory at Arkansas State in 1996. That victory, in Joe Novak’s first year as head coach, marked the Huskies’ only win of the season.
Northern Illinois went 2-2 in non-conference play to open the season, with wins over Army and Cal Poly at Huskie Stadium, a 49-7 loss to then No. 7 Wisconsin at Soldier Field and a 45-42 loss at Kansas that came when the Jayhawks scored a touchdown with nine seconds to play. The Huskies fell to 2-3 and 0-1 in the MAC after getting upset, 48-41, at Central Michigan on Oct. 1. NIU then began its winning streak with a 40-10 win over Kent State and played one of its best games of the year on Oct. 15 to defeat Western Michigan, 51-22. A three-game road trip began with a 31-30 win at Buffalo before NIU outscored Toledo, 63-60, to begin November. The Huskies won at Bowling Green, needed a late field goal to beat Ball State, and held off Eastern Michigan with a defensive stand to win the West and advance to the MAC Championship game for the second straight year.
Seven of Northern Illinois’ games in 2011 have been decided by seven points or less, and the Huskies have come out ahead in each of its last five “close calls”. During its eight-game winning streak, NIU has defeated Buffalo (by one point), Toledo (3), Ball State (3), Eastern Michigan (6) and Ohio (3) after falling to Kansas (3) and Central Michigan (7) earlier in the year. NIU’s 5-2 record in close games this season is its best mark ever (since records became available in 1920). In 2007 and 2008, Northern Illinois also played seven close games, but had just a 2-5 record, while the 2002 team went 4-3 in close games to finish 8-4 overall.
Special Senior Class
Nineteen Northern Illinois seniors will wear the Huskie uniform for the final time in the GoDaddy.com Bowl including 14 on offense, four defenders and one specialist. The group includes 13 fifth-year seniors, one player from the 2008 signing class, four who have been at NIU for four years and one two-year player. As a class, the seniors are tied for the winningest NIU senior class all-time with 34 victories. They need a win over Arkansas State to break the tie with the 2005, 1966 and 1965 Huskie seniors. All 19 2011 seniors have seen playing time this year with 10 listed as starters on offense and three starting on defense. The 19 players have 308 career starts for the Huskies.
A Championship Comeback
Northern Illinois won its first Mid-American Conference championship in 28 years with a 23-20 comeback victory over Ohio on Dec. 2 at Ford Field in Detroit. The Huskies fell behind 20-0 in the first half after the NIU offense committed three turnovers and picked up just four first downs. The Northern Illinois defense keyed the victory, twice holding Ohio to field goals from inside the 11-yard line, and limiting the Bobcats to 70 yards and no points in the second half. Chandler Harnish hit Nathan Palmer on a 39-yard touchdown pass at 6:19 of the third quarter and, after Jimmie Ward picked off OU QB Tyler Tettleton to record the Huskies’ third interception, Harnish connected with Martel Moore from 32 yards out to bring NIU within seven at 20-13. Palmer completed the comeback with a 22-yard touchdown catch with 2:52 to play, and Harnish led NIU on a five-play, 48-yard drive to set up a 33-yard game-winning field goal by Mathew Sims on the final play of the game.
Northern Illinois’ 20-point comeback in the MAC Championship game tied the school record for the largest comeback victory in school history and was the Huskies’ top come-from-behind win in nine years. On Oct. 12, 2002, NIU overcame a 27-7 third-quarter deficit to defeat Miami (Ohio), 48-41. On Oct. 23, 1983, the Huskies defeated Bowling Green, 24-23, after trailing 20-0 at halftime. The Huskies’ first 20-point comeback win came on Nov. 17, 1951 when NIU defeated Nebraska-Omaha 27-26 after trailing 26-6 in the third quarter.
Northern Illinois completed its 26th season as a member of the Mid-American Conference in 2011. In MAC games, Northern Illinois is 108-90-2 all-time and the Huskies are 73-45 (.619) in conference games since rejoining the MAC in 1997. The Huskies have won 15 of their last 16 and 20 of their last 24 MAC regular season contests. NIU completed its 15th consecutive campaign as a member of the MAC after initially competing as a league member from 1975-85.
NIU’s 2011 schedule and results bear a distinct similarity to the schedule and results of the 1983 NIU MAC Champion squad, albeit with one less regular season game and no league title contest. Just like this year, the 1983 team played both Kansas and Wisconsin in its non-conference schedule and started a winning streak with a victory over Kent State. The 1983 team’s only MAC loss came at Central Michigan and the squad had a one-point win along the way (24-23 over Bowling Green). That team closed out a nine-game MAC schedule with a 41-17 win over Ohio and went on to earn its first bowl win as a major college institution with a 20-13 win over Cal State Fullerton in the California Bowl.
Every Which Way
The Huskies “close call” victories have been secured in nearly every way imaginable. At Buffalo, the Huskies saw a determined Bulls squad storm back from a 31-10 deficit in the fourth quarter to pull within one point at 31-30, before the potential game-tying PAT hooked left. In the “which offense has the ball last wins” track meet at Toledo, it was NIU scoring the game-winning TD with 19 seconds remaining on a Harnish to Perez Ashford four-yard pass to lift NIU to a 63-60 win. The Huskies’ Mathew Sims kicked a game-winning field goal with eight seconds on the clock to break a tie and beat Ball State, 41-38, won with a defensive stand in the final two minutes to best Eastern Michigan, 18-12, and earned the MAC crown by coming back from a 20-0 deficit and getting another game-winning field goal, this time as time expired, to defeat Ohio, 23-20.
If You’re Counting
The GoDaddy.com Bowl game will be the 1,037th game in Northern Illinois history and the Huskies will be looking for their 523rd victory. NIU has a 522-463-51 all-time record for a winning percentage of .528. Since 2000, Northern Illinois is 89-59 (.601) and has 10 winning seasons. Over that time, NIU owns the best mark of any of the three Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the state of Illinois, ahead of both Illinois and Northwestern.
Northern Illinois football will reach a national television audience for the sixth straight game when the Huskies meet Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl on ESPN. The Huskies have become a TV regular in 2011 with a pair of Tuesday night appearances on ESPN2 (Nov. 1 at Toledo, Nov. 8 at Bowling Green) and a Tuesday and Friday showing on ESPNU (Nov. 15 vs. Ball State and Nov. 25 vs. Eastern Michigan, respectively). The MAC Championship game versus Ohio also aired on ESPN2. Since 2005, NIU has played 21 November or later games in front of the ESPN cameras with four games on ESPN, 11 on ESPN2, one on ESPN Classic and five on ESPNU. NIU is 1-3 on ESPN, 6-5 on ESPN2, 5-0 on ESPNU and 0-1 on Classic.
Streaking in the Stadium
Northern Illinois’ victory over Eastern Michigan was its school-record breaking 15th consecutive win at Huskie Stadium, breaking the previous mark of 14 set between Nov. 5, 1988 and Sept. 14, 1991. NIU has also won 12 straight Mid-American Conference games in DeKalb, with the last loss at Huskie Stadium a 33-30 overtime setback to Central Michigan on Nov. 12, 2008. NIU posted a perfect 5-0 record at Huskie Stadium in 2010 and was 6-0 in DeKalb this year.
Huskie sophomore Jimmie Ward will feel very comfortable taking the field at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and attending events in Mobile during GoDaddy.com Bowl week as Ward is a native of Mobile who came to NIU out of Davidson High School. The NIU safety spent the first few years of his life in Wisconsin before his family migrated south. Ward estimated that he played 25-30 games at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, and the Huskies’ bowl week home at the Mobile Marriott is just a few miles from both Davidson and his parents’ house. The Huskie secondary also features Florida panhandle native Sean Evans, whose hometown of Ft. Walton Beach is less than two hours east of Mobile.
Three Northern Illinois offensive players picked up postseason All-America honors in 2011, marking the first time since 1993 that three or more Huskies have been named to an All-America squad in one season. Senior center Scott Wedige earned top honors as he was named a second team All-American by CBSSports.com. He is the first NIU player since Michael Turner (2003) to be accorded first or second team All-America honors. Left tackle Trevor Olson was named a fourth team All-American by Phil Steele’s Magazine while quarterback Chandler Harnish was an honorable mention selection by SI.com. The three were the first Huskies to pick-up All-America honors since Larry English was a third-team All-American in 2008.
The MAC’s Best
Nine Huskies earned All Mid-American Conference honors from league coaches in 2011 with All-Americans Harnish (QB), Wedige (C) and Olson (OT) joined by sophomore kicker Mathew Sims on the All-MAC first team. The second team also featured four NIU players with running back Jasmin Hopkins and wide receiver Perez Ashford joined by defensive end Sean Progar and safety Jimmie Ward. Senior Nathan Palmer rounded out the group as he was a third team choice. Harnish, Wedige and Olson all repeated on the first team while Progar was a first team honoree a year ago. The nine Huskie players selected include five seniors, two juniors and two sophomores.
A Permanent Home
NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish has racked up a host of awards during his record-breaking senior season (see list), including the 2011 Vern Smith Leadership Award, presented annually to the top player in the Mid-American Conference as selected by league coaches. Huskies have had a hold on that award over the last six years, with an NIU player claiming the honor five times. In 2006, tailback Garrett Wolfe became the first Huskie to win the Vern Smith Award since 1983, while Larry English won back-to-back league MVP trophies in 2007 (while playing on a 2-10 team) and 2008. Last year, Northern Illinois tailback Chad Spann won the award, with the NIU string broken only in 2009 by Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour.
Dual Threat Quarterback
NIU’s Chandler Harnish ranks as the top dual threat quarterback in the nation. Harnish currently ranks 18th in the country, and is the FBS top quarterback, in rushing yards per game with 106.3. He also ranks 13th in the nation in passing efficiency with a 155.73 mark on 219-of-348 passing with 26 touchdowns and just five interceptions for 2,942 yards. Harnish’s total offense yardage of 4,324 is third nationally, behind ONLY Houston’s Case Keenum and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor. He broke his own school record for total offense yards in a season by 958 yards! On the ground, Harnish is averaging 7.47 yards per carry and is on pace to destroy the NIU single-season mark of 6.76 set by Adam Dach in 1990.
Chandler Harnish needs 118 rushing and 58 passing yards to become the FIRST player in NCAA FBS history to gain 1,500 rushing and 3,000 passing yards in a single season. With 1,382 rushing and 2,986 passing yards, Harnish is surpassing milestones rarely seen in combination in NCAA history. All-time, only 10 NCAA FBS players have reached 1,000 yards rushing and 2,000 yards passing in a season; among those 10, Harnish’s rushing total ranks fourth, behind only UAB’s Joe Webb (2009), Auburn’s Cam Newton (2010) and Michigan’s Denard Robinson (2010). Of that group, he has more passing yards than Webb and Robinson.
Quite a Career
While Harnish’s single season numbers are eye-opening, his career totals are just as impressive. Harnish enters his final game in a NIU uniform with 2,986 rushing and 8,670 passing yards. He needs 14 rushing yards to become only the third quarterback in FBS history to rush for 3,000 yards and pass for 8,000 in a career, joining Missouri’s Brad Smith (4,289 rush/8,799 pass from 2002-05) and Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick (4,112 rush/10,098 pass from 2007-10) with that distinction.
He’s Got Legs...
Chandler Harnish has led the Huskies in rushing in eight games this season, including seven of NIU’s last eight contest, and has rushed for 100-plus yards six times. Harnish has surpassed Stacey Robinson (1988-90) as the top rushing quarterback in Northern Illinois history and he ranks eighth on the Huskies’ career rushing list with 2,986 yards on 529 carries. His 24 career rushing scores, including 11 in 2011, rank ninth all-time, while his 11 career 100-yard rushing games are tied for eighth.
Chandler Harnish currently owns or shares 24 Northern Illinois records (see list, left), including the single-game total offense record of 519 yards set versus Ball State with 338 passing and 181 rushing yards. Harnish has even broken several of his own single season records (set last year). In 46 career games (44 starts), Harnish has completed 669-of-1,074 passes for 8,670 yards (all records) with a school-record six 300-yard passing games, including three this season. He has 11,656 yards of total offense and 90 touchdowns (rushing and passing) in 1,603 plays - also school records, and has averaged 7.3 yards per play in his career.
Terrific on Tuesday
NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish starred in the Huskies’ three Tuesday night November contests, rushing for over 100 yards and passing for more than 200 in each game. Harnish totaled 465 rushing (a 155-yard average) and 897 passing yards (a 299-yard average) in Tuesday night games at Toledo, at Bowling Green and versus Ball State. His yardage numbers increased in each game, with 133 rushing and 265 passing yards to go along with six touchdown passes at Toledo, 151 rushing and 294 passing yards and three total scores at Bowling Green, and 181 rushing and 338 passing yards with three TDs versus Ball State. Harnish’s 519 yards of total offense against BSU tied for the third-highest total by an FBS player this season.
Record Book Rewrite
Chandler Harnish recorded three of the top five and five of the top 10 total offense games in Northern Illinois history in 2011. He broke Phil Horvath’s six-year old school record of 477 yards (set Sept. 24, 2005 vs. Akron) with a 519-yard performance (338 passing, 181 rushing) versus Ball State; recorded the third-highest total offense game at NIU with 465 yards at Central Michigan (370/95) and compiled the fourth-best total versus Bowling Green with 445 yards (294/151). His performances at Western Michigan (432 total; 203/229) and Kansas (404 total; 315/89) came in at sixth and 10th, respectively.
The 200-200 Club
Chandler Harnish put himself in the NCAA record books with a rare 200-200 performance versus Western Michigan on Oct. 15. Harnish became the 10th player in FBS history to have 200 passing AND 200 rushing yards in the same game as he completed 14-of-27 passes for 203 yards and ran for 229 yards on 14 carries (a 16.4 yard average). Harnish joined a list of players that includes Texas’ Vince Young (2005), Brad Smith of Missouri (2005), Indiana’s Antwaan Randle El (2000) and Michigan’s Denard Robinson (2010). Harnish’s 432-yard total offense day earned Mid-American Conference West Division Offensive Player of the Week honors. The Huskie QB has rushed and passed for over 100 yards in the same game nine times in his career.
With his 229-yard effort versus Western Michigan, Huskie quarterback Chandler Harnish was one of only three MAC players to rush for 200 or more yards in a game this season; the performance ranks 16th among all players and is the top rushing total by any FBS quarterback in 2011. He gained 163 yards in the third quarter, the second-highest single quarter total ever at NIU, behind only a 173-yard second quarter by Stacey Robinson versus Fresno State on Oct. 6, 1990. It was the third-best rushing game by an NIU quarterback in school history and the best in 21 years, since Robinson’s NCAA record 306-yard total in that October 1990 win over Fresno State.
Chandler Harnish’s stats and records cannot be overshadowed by the fact that the senior is 21-5 as Northern Illinois’ starting quarterback over the last two seasons. Harnish has been under center for two of the most successful seasons in school history, will be the first Northern Illinois QB to play in four bowl games and is the only Huskie signal-caller with two victories over Big Ten teams. He is also the first NIU quarterback in 28 years to be called MAC Champion.
As a redshirt freshman starting his first career game at Minnesota in 2008, Chandler Harnish threw for 326 yards on 17-of-29 completions to record the best passing yardage day of his NIU career. That total held for 37 games, until Oct. 1, 2011 when Harnish threw for 370 yards on 27-of-50 passing at Central Michigan. The 370 yards rank sixth all-time at NIU, while 27 completions tied Harnish’s career-best and are fifth on the single-game list as are the 50 pass attempts. Harnish’s 462 yards of total offense (370 pass, 92 rush) versus CMU are now the third-most by an NIU player.
Northern Illinois placekicker Mathew Sims won two games with last-second field goals in 2011, earning his place in Huskie football lore. He made the biggest kick of his career on the final play of the MAC Championship game when his 33-yard field goal attempt snuck just inside the left upright, giving Northern Illinois its first MAC title since 1983. The kick gave NIU a 23-20 victory over Ohio and came after Sims had missed an extra point earlier in the game. That three was Sims’ second game-winner in 17 days as he hit a 34-yard field goal with eight seconds left to lift Northern Illinois to a 41-38 comeback victory over Ball State. Following that game, Sims was asked about his last game-winning field goal. His reply, “Never had one before.”
Palmer the Playmaker
NIU senior receiver Nathan Palmer capped his most productive season with the most clutch performance of his career in the MAC Championship game with four catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns and 17 yards on four rushes. Palmer was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after catching TD passes of 39 and 22 yards in the second half. An aspiring singer whose song “The Hard Way,” is played during NIU’s pregame warmups, he leads NIU with 46 catches for 683 yards and seven TDs on the season. He caught three touchdown passes at Toledo and has had eight catches of 25 yards or longer this season.
A Pickoff Party
Northern Illinois did not pick off a pass in the month of November, but made up for the lapse with a season-best three interceptions - all by defensive backs - in the MAC Championship game win over Ohio. NIU got interceptions by cornerback Jhony Faustin and safeties Jimmie Ward and Dechane Durante in the win, with Faustin and Ward recording their first career INTs. Prior to the Ohio game, NIU’s last interceptions came at Buffalo, when both Rashaan Melvin and Durante recorded INTs. NIU has 10 interceptions by eight different players - all underclassmen - this year.
Huskie senior offensive tackle Trevor Olson set the NIU school record for games started versus Ball State when he made his 51st career start and is expected to extend the mark in Mobile and make his 54th career start. Olson broke the record set by Huskie center Eddie Adamski from 2006-09. The Huskies’ starting left tackle for every game of his career beginning in 2008, he is a two-time first team All-MAC choice who has NOT given up a single sack in 2011.
NIU’s record-setting offense has been powered by one of the best and most experienced offensive lines in the country. Behind redshirt seniors Trevor Olson (LT), Scott Wedige (C), Joe Pawlak (RG) and Keith Otis (RT) and redshirt junior Logan Pegram (LG), NIU ranks ninth nationally in rushing offense, 13th in scoring offense and 10th in total offense. The Huskies rank fifth in the country in fewest sacks allowed and had a string of five straight games without allowing a sack snapped by Ball State. They have allowed only nine sacks on the year. Since 2007, only eight programs nationally have given up less than 10 sacks in a season and no MAC team has ever surrendered less than 10 sacks since the stat has been recorded (2004). NIU’s five veterans up front have made 168 combined starts, led by Olson’s 53 and former walk-on Pawlak’s 40. Otis and Wedige have 27 starts each; Pegram has started 21 contests.
Sophomore kicker Mathew Sims has set a pair of NIU single-season scoring records as he has 116 points on 19 field goals and a school-record 59 PATs. He surpassed the kicking points and PATs made records set by kicker Mike Cklamovksi a year ago. Sims’ 116 points rank tied for sixth on the single season charts for total points. He is also already on the Huskie career scoring charts with 126 kicking points and 63 PATs made to rank eighth and seventh, respectively.
Leading the League
With 59 extra points and 19 field goals on the year, NIU sophomore Mathew Sims, the first team All-MAC kicker, ranks 17th nationally in overall scoring (8.9 points per game) and is tied for 18th in field goals per game. Sims made a career-high four field goals at Central Michigan (on six attempts) and hit all four of his three pointers versus Kent State when he was named one of the Lou Groza Award “Stars of the Week.” His perfect day tied for the top percentage game in school history and was the first time since 2000 that an NIU kicker went four-for-four or better on threes.
Northern Illinois clinched its spot in the 2011 MAC title game with an 18-12 victory over Eastern Michigan on Nov. 25 at Huskie Stadium. The game was not won until the Huskie defense stopped an EMU drive in the final minutes on back-to-back sacks by Alan Baxter and Sean Progar, and a ball-jarring hit by defensive backs Demetrius Stone and Sean Evans on a fourth and 35 pass. The defense also recorded a safety, held EMU to a field goal from first and goal on the two and allowed only 280 yards on the day.
In winning the Eastern Michigan game while scoring just 18 points, Northern Illinois notched its lowest point total in a victory since Oct. 25, 2008 when the Huskies defeated Bowling Green, 16-13, in Huskie Stadium. NIU had won 27 games since that day and had not scored less than 23 points in those games. The Huskies’ previous lowest scoring total in a win this season was 31 points in a 31-30 victory at Buffalo (Oct. 22).
The Northern Illinois offense produced some astronomical numbers versus Ball State with 710 yards of total offense - the second-highest total in school history - on 95 plays. For the third time in 2011, two NIU players gained more than 100 rushing yards as Chandler Harnish ran for 181 yards and tailback Jasmin Hopkins added 122 for his second 100-yard day of the season. The most eye-opening stat of the night came under the heading of first downs as Northern Illinois posted 43 first downs while scoring 41 points. The Huskies’ first down total was just two shy of the NCAA single game record.
On The Hop
Over the last 13 seasons, Northern Illinois has had a player run for 1,000 or more yards 12 times (see chart), with Chandler Harnish the first quarterback to add his name to that list NIU has never had two players gain 1,000 yards in the same season, but tailback Jasmin Hopkins can join the 1,000-yard club with 68 rushing yards in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. He has three 100-yard games this season (vs. Army, Cal Poly and Ball State) and four in his career, and led Northern Illinois in rushing versus Ohio. Hopkins leads the Huskies in touchdowns with 16 and has scored at least one TD in nine of Northern Illinois’ 13 games with five multiple touchdown games.
NIU has recorded 63 plays of 25 yards or longer in 2011 with Chandler Harnish involved in 38 long plays with 27 passes (all) and 11 of NIU’s 21 long rushes. The Huskies also have 15 returns of at least 25 yards this season. The numbers compare favorably, but are distributed slightly differently than a year ago when NIU tallied 71 long plays in 14 games but had just 21 long passes to go with 30 rushes of 25 yards or more and 20 returns.
Moving the Chains
With a school-record nine 40-point games, the Huskie offense is on the verge of breaking a host of single season school records set by the 2010 team and before. In fact, three 2010 records have already fallen as NIU has established new marks for first downs in a season (316), first downs passing (137) and most plays (926). NIU needs to gain 38 yards to break the mark for most net yards, set last season with 6,300. Also within reach is the school record for passing yards in a season of 3,044, which was set back in 1963. Northern Illinois needs 101 passing yards Jan. 8 to break the mark. For a complete list of the 2011 Huskies’ place in the record books, see pages 12-13.
Back in his middle linebacker position for the first time since 2009, senior Pat Schiller leads the Huskie defense with 108 tackles, becoming the first NIU defender to surpass the 100-tackle mark since 2007 when Alex Kube had 111 stops. Schiller’s tackle total marks a career high and he has also had his best year with 10 tackles for loss (fourth on the team), two sacks and six pass break ups. A redshirt senior who has come back from a serious knee injury, Schiller has 232 career tackles and 19 tackles for loss.
Can’t Win Without It
A young Northern Illinois defense has improved throughout the 2011 season, especially late in the year, and a check of the Huskies’ defensive numbers in the last four games - versus Bowling Green, Ball State, Eastern Michigan and Ohio - bear that out. Here’s a comparison of NIU opponents’ averages through the first nine games of the year compared to the totals in the last four games, with the differences.
|First 9 Games
|Last 4 Games
Named the MAC’s Male Scholar-Athlete of the Week for Dec. 5, Northern Illinois junior noseguard Nabal Jefferson also earned first team Capital One Academic All-District honors. Jefferson, an accountancy major with a 3.91 grade point average who is having a career year on the NIU defensive line with 41 tackles, is the Huskies’ first Academic All-District selection since 2008. He fulfilled a defensive lineman’s dream versus Kent State when he picked off an attempted screen pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.
Ten players on the Huskies’ 2011 bowl roster have already received their undergraduate degrees after December graduates Scott Wedige, Willie Clark and Jordan Delegal joined the alumni ranks. Seven other seniors - Trevor Olson, Keith Otis, Chandler Harnish, DeMarcus Grady, Pat McAvoy, Cameron Bell and Adam Kiel - received their undergraduate degrees last May.
Two Sport Duty
For NIU two-sport student-athletes Jamison Wells and DeMarcus Grady, the practices and workouts don’t end with the GoDaddy.com Bowl. Wells and Grady, both wide receivers, will quickly turn to their next sport following the bowl game with Wells joining the Northern Illinois baseball team and Grady moving inside to the basketball court. Wells, who originally signed with NIU as a baseball player only, hit .321 and started 53 games for the 2011 Huskies. He stole 27 bases and had 16 doubles for a 30-win team. Grady joined the NIU basketball team for the first time last December and in 15 games, pulled down 25 rebounds and scored 3.5 points per game.
Wild One at Toledo
Chandler Harnish completed his sixth touchdown pass of the night on a four-yard toss to Perez Ashford with 19 seconds on the clock to lift NIU to a 63-60 win over Toledo in the Glass Bowl on Nov. 1. After taking a 49-41 lead early in the fourth quarter, NIU gave up back-to-back touchdowns to the Rockets and trailed 53-49 before coming back twice in the final eight minutes to claim the Huskies’ third win all-time at Toledo.
Lightning Strikes - Twice
Fans had barely settled in their seats at Toledo when NIU freshman Tommylee Lewis brought the game’s opening kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown, tying the school record for longest scoring play (Dave Petway, 100-yard INT return vs. Southern Illinois, 10-22-77) and setting the mark for longest kickoff return TD (previous record, 98 yards by Byron Florence vs. Western Michigan, Sept. 23, 1972). Four minutes and 30 seconds later, Lewis went 95 yards untouched to the end zone for his second touchdown of the game. That return tied for the ninth-longest scoring play, and fifth longest kickoff return, in NIU history.
After leading the Huskies to a 63-60 win at Toledo by throwing six touchdown passes - the second-most in MAC and in NIU history - including the game-winner with 19 seconds left, Chandler Harnish was named the Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week and the Rivals.com MAC Player of the Week. Harnish completed 17-of-26 passes for 265 yards and rushed 16 times for 133 yards. Freshman kickoff returner Tommylee Lewis also earned MAC West Specialist of the Week recognition for the Toledo contest after returning a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns (see below).
Lewis joined a group of 13 players in Football Bowl Subdivision (NCAA Division I-A) history who returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game. The list includes players like Raghib Ismail (Notre Dame), the only person to score twice on kickoff returns in two games. With his two kickoff return scores versus Toledo, Lewis became the first player in Northern Illinois history to return two kickoff returns for scores in the same game; he tied the NIU records for most kickoff return scores in a season and in a career.
On the Blocks
Northern Illinois has blocked four kicks this season, including three punts. NIU blocked a punt and a field goal versus Kent State with Dechane Durante getting his hands on a punt, while Ron Newcomb knocked down a late Flashes’ field goal attempt. NIU’s other punt blocks this season have been by Courtney Stephen, versus Cal Poly, and Jimmie Ward. Stephen recovered Ward’s block versus Army and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown. A year ago, the Huskies blocked five punts and seven total kicks, including a blocked extra point and field goal in the MAC Championship game.
Novak’s Last Class
Of the 19 seniors on Northern Illinois’ 2011 roster, 13 are fifth-year players signed as part of former head coach Joe Novak’s last signing class. The 13 were on the Huskie team that won just two games in 2007 but are now the only senior class in Northern Illinois history to play in four bowl games. Among NIU’s 13 fifth-year seniors, nine are listed as starters and all 13 are on the two-deep. The group includes four players who were on the 2007 team as walk-ons, receiver Willie Clark, offensive guard Joe Pawlak, fullback Pat McAvoy and tight end Jack Marks, along with 53-game starter Trevor Olson at left tackle and four-year starting quarterback Chandler Harnish.
After making a name for himself a year ago on special teams with three blocked punts, safety Jimmie Ward has become one of the most consistent Huskie defenders in 2011. Ward, a second-team All-MAC selection, ranks second on the NIU team in tackles with 93 and his 44 solo stops are second on the squad. He led NIU in tackles at Toledo and versus Wisconsin, with 13 and 11, respectively. He also has a quarterback sack, 2.5 tackles for loss, a blocked punt, an interception and four pass break ups on the season.
Unsung and Unexpected
Defensive tackle Ron Newcomb enjoyed the best year of his career in 2011 and was named the Huskies’ Defensive MVP at the team’s annual awards banquet. Unfortunately, Newcomb’s season ended in the MAC Championship game as his injured achilles tendon required surgery. Newcomb entered 2011 with 13 career tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack and three pass break ups in just 15 games of action. He finished 2011 with 49 tackles a team-leading 12.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 quarterback sacks (second on the team) and four pass break-ups.
So Long Saturdays
The Buffalo game on Oct. 22 marked Northern Illinois’ last Saturday game of the 2011 season. NIU enjoyed 10 days between the game at Buffalo and the first of its three straight Tuesday games (Nov. 1 at Toledo) and had another nine days off between the Nov. 15 home contest versus Ball State and the regular season finale on Friday, Nov. 25.
Northern Illinois has played the overwhelming majority of its games in the Midwest over the years with only the occasional trip West (San Diego, Boise), East (Annapolis, Philadelphia) or South (Shreveport). The Huskies’ trip to Mobile will be the southern-most destination for NIU since a 2004 game versus then-MAC foe Central Florida in Orlando. The Huskies’ last journey to Alabama provokes a fond memory as that trip resulted in one of the biggest wins in school history - a 19-16 victory over No. 21 Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 20, 2003.
Versus the SBC
Northern Illinois is 11-12 all-time versus teams that currently make up the Sun Belt Conference, and is 1-0 versus SBC teams in bowl games. Northern Illinois last played a Sun Belt team in the 2004 Silicon Valley Bowl in San Jose, Calif., where the Huskies defeated Troy, 34-21. All-time, NIU has played six of the current Sun Belt teams, including seven meetings - and six wins - versus Arkansas State. The Huskies have played Louisiana-Lafayette nine times and are 3-6 versus the Ragin’ Cajuns and are 1-1 in two meetings with Middle Tennessee State and 0-2 versus Louisiana-Monroe. Northern Illinois has lost its lone meetings with North Texas and Western Kentucky. NIU has never played Florida International or Florida Atlantic.
Good Day for the Defense
On Oct. 8, Northern Illinois began its current eight-game winning streak by holding Kent State to 64 total yards, the lowest by an NIU opponent since the Huskies joined the Major College (Division I FBS) ranks in 1969. The Flashes’ one rushing yard on 38 carries was the lowest total since Miami (Ohio) had minus 11 rushing yards on Oct. 24, 2009. KSU’s 63 passing yards were the fewest since Eastern Michigan tallied just 11 passing yards last year (11-26-10). In addition, Northern Illinois’ 15 tackles for loss were the most since NIU had a school-record 16 versus Eastern Michigan in 2002 (11-16), while the 84 yards lost were the most ever by an NIU defense, breaking the old record of minus 80 yards versus Wisconsin (9-14-02). The Huskies’ eight sacks were their most since Oct. 24, 2009 versus Miami.
Spreading the Wealth
Ten different receivers have caught touchdown passes for NIU this year with six players scoring multiple receiving TDs. In addition, three Huskies (Nathan Palmer, Willie Clark, Martel Moore) have recorded 100-yard receiving days, with Palmer and Moore with two 100-yard games apiece. In all, 16 players have caught passes and nine players, including seven receivers and tailbacks Jasmin Hopkins and Akeem Daniels, have at least 10 catches on the year. NIU’s top five pass-catchers are receivers.
Dave Doeren will open his second season as Northern Illinois head coach with nearly a reverse of the situation he faced entering 2011, when NIU returned nine starters on offense but just two on defense. In 2012, the Huskies will have a new look on offense with only OG Logan Pegram and receivers Perez Ashford and Da’Ron Brown as returning starters, while on defense, the Huskies will be projected to return eight starters with only MLB Pat Schiller, OLB Jordan Delegal and DT Ron Newcomb moving on.