Huskies Host Badgers in Soldier Field Showdown II

GO HUSKIES Dave Doeren
GO HUSKIES
Dave Doeren
GO HUSKIES

Sept. 13, 2011

Complete Release

2011 NORTHERN ILLINOIS HUSKIES FOOTBALL
No. 7/No. 8 Wisconsin (2-0) vs. Northern Illinois (1-1)
Soldier Field Showdown II

Sept. 17, 2011 | 2:30 p.m. | ESPN3
Chicago, Ill. | Soldier Field | 61,500

HUSKIE FOOTBALL FACTS
2011 Record: 1-1
2010 Record: 11-3
MAC (Regular Season) Record/Finish: 8-0/1st, West Division
Head Coach: Dave Doeren
Record at NIU & Career Record: 1-1/First Year
Alma Mater/Year: Drake/1994
Basic Offense/Defense: Multiple/4-3
First Year of Football: 1899
All-Time Record: 513-461-51
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
Founded: 1895
Enrollment: 23,850
Affiliation: NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision
Conference: Mid-American (West Division)
Colors: Cardinal and Black
Nickname: Huskies
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
Website: www.NIUHuskies.com
Twitter: @NIUAthletics

2011 NIU SCHEDULE

BADGERS' FACTS
2011 Record: 2-0
2010 Final Record/Big Ten Record/Finish : 11-2/7-1/T1st
Head Coach: Bret Bielema
Alma Mater/Year: Iowa/1992
Record at UW/Years: 51-16/6th
Career Record/Years: 51-16/6th
Location: Madison, Wisc.
Enrollment: 42,099
Conference: Big Ten
Colors: Cardinal and White
Stadium: Camp Randall Stadium
Surface/Capacity: Field Turf/80,321
Chancellor: David Ward (Interim)
Athletic Director: Barry Alvarez
Athletics Website: www.uwbadgers.com
Ticket Information: 1-800 GO BADGERS
UW Athletic Communications: Brian Lucas (FB Primary)
Contact: bml@athletics.wisc.edu, 608-263-5052

 

 

2011 WISCONSIN SCHEDULE

SERIES HISTORY
Overall: Wisconsin leads 11-1
In Chicago/DeKalb: First Meeting
Streak: Wisconsin, 4
First Meeting: Sept. 11, 1971; NIU 0, at UW 31
Last Meeting: Sept. 5, 2009: NIU 20, at UW 28

NIU HEAD COACH Dave Doeren

Dave Doeren, a 16-year collegiate coaching veteran who has helped take teams to eight bowl games and two national championship contests, was named the 21st head football coach in NIU history on Dec. 13, 2010. Doeren came to NIU after completing his fifth season at Wisconsin in 2010. After spending his first two seasons in Madison as the Badgers' co-defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator, he added defensive coordinator to his duties in January 2008. The Shawnee Mission, Kansas native previously 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 (Kans.) Northwest High School. During Doeren's time at Wisconsin, the Badgers posted a 49-16 overall record and played in the Champs Sports Bowl (twice), Outback Bowl and Capital One Bowl. In 2010, UW posted an 11-2 record, won a share of the Big Ten title and played TCU in the 2011 Rose Bowl. At Wisconsin, Doeren's defenses were consistently ranked in the top 25 in the nation and while there he coached players like current National Football League linebackers Jonathan Casillas of the New Orleans Saints and DeAndre Levy of the Detroit Lions. Most recently, defensive end J.J. Watt was selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. Doeren arrived at UW after four seasons (2002-05) at the University of Kansas. He was the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator for his first three seasons before being promoted to co-defensive coordinator in 2005. Prior to his time at Kansas, Doeren coached the secondary at NCAA FCS power Montana for two seasons. Montana won the I-AA national championship in 2001 and went 28-3 with two conference titles in his time there. He started his college coaching career as an assistant at Drake from 1995-97 where he coached linebackers, before becoming defensive coordinator 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.

HUSKIE MULTIMEDIA

WATCH Wisconsin-NIU ON ESPN3 and the WatchESPN Mobile App
Soldier Field Showdown II between Wisconsin and Northern Illinois can be seen online on ESPN3.com, ESPN's live sports broadband network that is currently available in approximately 80 million homes nationwide, as well as on internet-ready TVs, smart phones, tablets and computers. ESPN3 is available at no additional cost to millions of fans who receive their high-speed internet connection/cable subscription from an affiliated service provider. In addition, ESPN3.com is available FREE to 21 million U.S. college students and U.S. based military personnel. For more information, go to WatchESPN.com. Jim Barbar will handle the play-by-play call of the NIU-UW game for ESPN3.com with Christian Fauria on color commentary.

LISTEN TO UW-NIU 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)*
*will leave broadcast at 5:35 p.m. due to baseball
Each week, the broadcast kicks off with the pregame show 30 minutes prior to kick off. Hall of Fame broadcaster Bill Baker entered his 32nd season as the play-by-play voice of the Huskies and is joined by Mark Lindo, in his 27th year as NIU's color analyst, and sixth-year sideline reporter Casey Kahler.

"Inside Huskie Football" Radio Show
NIU Head Coach Dave Doeren joins host Bill Baker and other special guests on the "Inside Huskie Football" radio show each Thursday from 7-8 p.m. during the 2011 season. The show takes place live at Cabana Charley's in Sycamore and fans are invited to attend. Hear the show live on WLBK 1360 AM DeKalb and on NIU Radio Network affiliate ESPN1380AM in Janesville, Wis. The 2011 dates for the show are Sept. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27; and Nov. 3, 10 and 22.

"NIU Live" Radio Show
Each week, join NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher, host Andy Garcia and Northern Illinois coaches for "NIU Live" on WSCR 670 AM The Score in Chicago. The 30-minute show features a weekly interview with football coach Dave Doeren as well as interviews with other Huskie coaches and all the latest NIU Athletics news. Hear the show at 11 p.m. (CT) on Sept. 1, 8, 15 and 22, and at 10 p.m. on Sept. 29.

Huskies All-Access
Fans across the country can hear all NIU live radio broadcasts, including football games and "Inside Huskie Football," and watch the Cal-Poly, Kent State and Western Michigan games 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. Subscribers also have access to Coach Doeren's weekly press conferences and special video features.

NIUHuskies.com
Your source for all of the latest NIU Athletics news and information, statistics, press releases and more.

NORTHERN ILLINOIS NEWS & NOTES

Soldier Field Showdown II
Northern Illinois welcomes Wisconsin, currently ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press poll and No. 8 in the USA Today Coaches rankings, to its "home away from home" at Chicago's Soldier Field. The contest marks the second time in its history that NIU has played a Big Ten team in a home game. The Huskies took on Iowa at the same Chicago venue on Sept. 1, 2007.

Sweet Home Chicago
Northern Illinois will play seven home games in 2011 with six at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb and Saturday's Soldier Field Showdown II versus Wisconsin in Chicago. Soldier Field Showdown II will mark the second home game for Northern Illinois at the landmark Chicago venue as the Huskies opened the 2007 season versus Iowa at Soldier Field (a 17-3 loss). With NIU's campus just 65 miles from downtown Chicago, more than 180,000 Northern Illinois alums reside in the Chicagoland area.

Huskies and Badgers
Wisconsin has been the Huskies' most frequent Big Ten opponent over the years as Saturday's game marks the 13th meeting between the schools and the first outside of Madison. Wisconsin owns an 11-1 edge in the series with Northern Illinois scoring a 19-17 victory over UW on Sept. 17, 1988 to claim its first Big Ten victory. Since then, Wisconsin has won four straight over NIU, most recently claiming wins in 2007 and 2009. The series began in 1971.

The Last Time
In the last game between Northern Illinois and Wisconsin, a 28-20 Badgers' win in the 2009 season opener, UW built a 28-6 lead through three quarters before the Huskies notched two late scores to pull within eight. NIU then recovered the onside kick with 2:46 left on the clock, and advanced to the Wisconsin 36-yard line before Chandler Harnish's fourth-down pass fell incomplete and the Badgers secured the win.

Doeren's Debut Season
Northern Illinois Coach Dave Doeren is 1-1 in his first stint as a head coach after spending 16 seasons on the sidelines as a collegiate assistant. The 21st head football coach in NIU history, and the 10th since Northern Illinois joined the major college ranks 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).

Against Today's Big Ten
Saturday's game marks the Huskies 39th contest against an opponent from teams that currently make up the Big Ten Conference, including NIU's two games against the league's newest team, Nebraska. Northern Illinois has played 11 different Big Ten teams all-time with Wisconsin NIU's only foe from that league in 2011. The only current Big Ten team Northern Illinois has never faced is Michigan State. All-time, the Huskies have claimed three wins and one tie versus the Big Ten, with wins over league teams Purdue (2009) and Minnesota (2010) in the last two years. Prior to that, Northern Illinois defeated Wisconsin, 19-17, in 1988 and tied Northwestern, 16-16, in 1987.

Heartbreaker in the Heartland
Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb hit D.J. Brashears with a six-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal with nine seconds left to lift the Jayhawks to a 45-42 victory over Northern Illinois last Saturday in Lawrence. The play capped an explosive offensive evening for both teams who matched scores through the first three periods before Kansas tallied a field goal and the final second touchdown while holding NIU to a single TD. Northern Illinois led 21-7 before a KU comeback late in the first half tied the score at 21, and Kansas took a 35-28 lead in the third quarter before the Huskies responded, setting up the fourth quarter KU heroics.

Across the Field
For the second straight game, Northern Illinois Head Coach Dave Doeren leads his Huskies against a team he previously coached. A week ago, Doeren, a Kansas City native, saw the Huskies fall to Kansas, where he had served as linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator from 2002-05. Saturday's match-up brings a little more familiarity as Doeren spent the last five years at Wisconsin (2006-10), coaching and recruiting many of the players who still make up the Badgers' roster and working with many of the coaches he will face in the game. Doeren began his tenure at Wisconsin as co-defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator and was named defensive coordinator in January 2008. He was a part of a staff that took the Badgers to five bowl appearances, a 49-15 record and three 10-plus win seasons.

Familiar Faces
Dave Doeren is not the only Huskie coach heading home this weekend as NIU assistant coach Kevin Kane spent the last three years at UW as a graduate assistant and quality control coach, while NIU running backs coach and special teams coordinator Eddie Faulkner is a former Badger running back (1996-2000). Faulkner helped the Badgers to two Big Ten Championships and went to five consecutive bowl games with UW during his playing career. On the other side of the field, UW's running backs coach is former Huskie running back Thomas Hammock, who NIU faced last year when he was a member of the Minnesota coaching staff. Hammock gained 2,432 yards for Northern Illinois from 1999-2002 as he averaged 120.3 yards per game for the Huskies as a sophomore in 2000. He also spent the 2005-06 seasons as a member of the Huskies' coaching staff.

Wisconsin Natives
Northern Illinois has nine players from Wisconsin on its 2011 roster with senior center Scott Wedige (Elkhorn) the lone starter on offense or defense among the group. Four of the Wisconsin Huskies are newcomers to the team this year in Cameron Clinton-Earl (Milwaukee), Leighton Settle (Madison), Jordan Braxton (Madison) and Tyler Wedel (McFarland), while Zach Anderson (Ladysmith), George Rainey (Milwaukee), Jared Volk (Hartland) and Jamison Wells (Combined Locks) have seen time in back-up roles during their NIU careers.

Their Town
Northern Illinois has 36 Chicagoland natives on its 109-man roster in 2011 as a full third of the Huskie players will be heading closer to home this weekend. NIU's Chicago contingent includes starters Da'Ron Brown, Jack Marks, Joe Pawlak, Keith Otis and Willie Clark on offense, along with Anthony Wells, Nabal Jefferson, Sean Progar, Pat Schiller, Rashaan Melvin and Dominique Ware on defense. None of the current Huskies played in the first Soldier Field Showdown versus Iowa in 2007, although NIU's 13 redshirt seniors were on the sideline that day.

If You're Counting
The Wisconsin game will be the 1,026th game in Northern Illinois history and the Huskies will be looking for their 514th victory all-time. NIU played its 1,000th game and won its 500th, in 2009 and has a 513-461-51 all-time record for a winning percentage of .525. Over the past 11 seasons (since 2000), Northern Illinois is 80-57 (.584) with nine winning campaigns to record the best mark of any of the three Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the state of Illinois.

Non-Conference Slate
For the third straight season, NIU will open the year with four non-conference games, with three of those contests to be played at home in 2011. After opening with Army and taking on Kansas on the road, the Huskies play host to Wisconsin at Soldier Field and close out their non-conference slate with Cal-Poly, an FCS team that went 7-4 a year ago and was receiving votes in the 2011 Preseason Coaches' Poll. NIU's four non-conference opponents went 28-21 last year with three of the four posting winning records.

Star Power
The Huskies will welcome Emmy Award winning actor Steve Harris, a former NIU football player, to the field as this week's "Huskie Legend" and former Northern Illinois Head Coach Joe Novak and his wife, Carole, will be on hand. In addition, Northern Illinois great Garrett Wolfe will be at the game.

Fabulous at Forty
Northern Illinois topped the 40-point mark for the third-straight game dating back to the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl as the Huskies put up 42 points at Kansas and 49 against Army in the season opener. In fact, the Huskies have broken the 40-point barrier in six of their last seven games overall.

Another Level
Now in his fourth season as the Huskies' starting signal-caller, senior quarterback Chandler Harnish has taken his productivity to another level in 2011. Harnish, who has started 33 games for NIU at quarterback since 2008, has completed 75 percent of his passes (39-of-52) for 510 yards and seven touchdowns, while running for 169 yards and four scores on 22 carries. His passing efficiency rating of 197.96 leads the MAC, ranks sixth in the country and is 57 points above his career average while his completion percentage is 13 point higher than his career number.

Sharing the Wealth
Da'Ron Brown and Jasmin Hopkins became the eighth and ninth Huskies to find the end zone this season when they scored versus Kansas. Brown made an amazing touchdown catch - the first of his NIU career - with 1:17 in the third quarter, while Hopkins' one-yard plunge in the fourth quarter led to a 42-38 lead for NIU. Akeem Daniels, Luke Eakes, Chandler Harnish, Nathan Palmer, Martel Moore, Courtney Stephen and Jamal Womble have also scored in the first two games of 2011. It was not until the Akron game (10/2/10), the fifth game of the 2010 season, that more than six Huskies scored a touchdown.

Quite a Haul
Nathan Palmer made a career high nine receptions for 86 yards against Kansas Saturday night. That total beats his previous career best of five set last season at Western Michigan (10/30/10) and is the most by a Huskie since Landon Cox's 11 receptions at Ohio Nov. 21, 2009. Palmer's 86 yards is the most for the senior from Elkhart, Ind. since racking up 170 yards in his Huskie debut at Minnesota (8/30/08) and the most by an NIU receiver since Martel Moore tallied 110 against Miami in the 2010 MAC Championship game.

Harnish Continues to Establish Career Highs
Quarterback Chandler Harnish threw for a career-high 27 completions on 33 attempts and 315 yards at Kansas (9/10/11). It was Harnish's fourth game completing 20 or more passes and his highest completion total since Nov. 21, 2009 when he completed 24-of-35 attempts at Ohio. It was also the fourth 300-yard game of his career and the most yards passing by the redshirt senior since Harnish passed for 326 yards at Minnesota Aug. 30, 2008 in his first game as a Huskie.

Offensive Catalyst
Chandler Harnish established a career high in total offense tallying 404 yards at Kansas. The Bluffton, Ind. native passed for 315 yards on a career-high 27 completions and rushed for 89 yards on 11 carries. He surpassed his previous career best of 337 yards (307 passing, 30 rushing) at Ohio (11/21/09). The total was the most by an NIU player since Phil Horvath set the school record with 477 yards versus Akron on Sept. 24, 2005 and ranks sixth on the Huskies' all-time single game list.

Responsible Leader
The nation's leader in points responsible for (rushing plus passing) with 66, Chandler Harnish added 30 points to his season total with a career-high three rushing touchdowns and two more via the air against the Jayhawks (9/10/11). Harnish has 11 touchdowns in 2011 with seven touchdown passes, including a career-high five against Army (9/3/11), and four rushing scores. Harnish was responsible for 28 touchdowns (21 passing, seven rushing) last season and is second on NIU's all-time list for touchdowns responsible for in a career with 64. He needs one more to tie Huskie all-time leader George Bork, who ran for five scores and passed for 60 during his NIU career (1960-63).

Starting Strong
Chandler Harnish began his senior season with the top game of his career in terms of touchdown passes as he hit five different receivers for scores versus Army and added a one-yard scoring sneak. Harnish's five touchdown passes were the most by an NIU quarterback since Sept. 17, 2005, when Phil Horvath threw for six TDs versus Akron. For the game, Harnish completed 12-of-19 passes for 195 yards and added 80 rushing yards on 11 carries. He averaged 9.2 yards per play and his passing efficiency rating of 225.68 ranks second in the country. Harnish earned MAC West Offensive Player of the Week honors for the sixth time in his career and was selected the MAC's Player of the Week by rivals.com.

He's Still Here
Chandler Harnish is poised to break even more NIU records in 2011 after claiming the school single-season and career total offense marks a year ago. His 3,366 yards of total offense in 2010 broke a record that had stood for 47 years as he completed 189 passes in 292 attempts with just five interceptions and 21 touchdowns. His seven touchdown passes so far this year have moved him into third place on the Northern Illinois charts for career TD passes with 47, and he is threatening NIU career records for touchdown passes, passing yards and completions that have stood for 48 years. Harnish also moved up to tied for 19th all-time at NIU in rushing with 1,773 yards.

Pulling (AP) Rankings
Northern Illinois will face a ranked team for the first time since Nov. 5, 2008 when the Huskies played No. 17 Ball State in Muncie. Wisconsin is also the highest ranked team the Huskies have played since opening the 2006 season versus No. 1 Ohio State on Sept. 2, 2006 at Ohio Stadium. NIU's last victory over a ranked opponent came on Sept. 20, 2003 when the Huskies defeated No. 19 Alabama, 19-16. All-time, Northern Illinois is 4-26 versus teams ranked in the Associated Press poll and has lost in its last six upset bids.

Receiving Presason Votes
On the heels of NIU's 11-3 season and Humanitarian Bowl victory over Fresno State, the Huskies opened 2011 as the only Mid-American Conference team to receive votes in the preseason Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' polls. Northern Illinois earned four votes in each poll to rank tied for 41st (AP) and tied for 44th (Coaches). The Huskies received votes in each of the final eight polls of 2010, achieving season high rankings of 24th (AP) and 23rd (USA Today) in week 14 on Nov. 28th. Following the bowl win, Northern Illinois finished the year 29th and 26th in the AP and USA Today listings, respectively.

Experience Required
Northern Illinois returns one of the most experienced and proven offensive lines in the nation with all five starters returning from the line that ranked 14th in the nation in fewest sacks allowed and paved the way for a record-setting offense a year ago. With redshirt seniors Trevor Olson (LT), Scott Wedige (C), Joe Pawlak (RG) and Keith Otis (RT) joined by redshirt junior Logan Pegram (LG), the line returns intact for 2011. Combined, they have 115 starts, led by Olson's 42 (every game of his NIU career) and Pawlak's 29. Otis and Wedige add 15 starts each and Pegram has started 11 contests.

Who's Next?
Over the last 12 seasons, Northern Illinois has had a back run for 1,000 or more yards 11 times (see chart, previous page). Most recently, Chad Spann turned in back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons in 2009 and 2010, joining of Thomas Hammock (2000-01), Michael Turner (2002-03) and Garret Wolfe (2004, '05, '06) with multiple 1,000-yard campaigns. Jasmin Hopkins made a start at adding his name to the 1,000-yard list versus Army with a career-best 138 yards on 14 carries as he averaged 9.9 yards per carry. The NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year at Fort Scott CC in 2009 after gaining 1,931 yards, Hopkins gained 366 yards on 38 carries to average 9.6 yards per carry a year ago.

On the Block
Huskie special teams set the tone early in NIU's win over Army as Jimmie Ward blocked Army's first punt of the game and Courtney Stephen scooped it up for a 16-yard return score to give Northern Illinois an early 7-0 lead. Blocking punts is nothing new for Ward, who blocked a punt for the FOURTH time in his 15-game NIU career. Ward blocked three punts as a true freshman a year ago. Stephen's score came in his first career NIU game after transferring from Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada and sitting out the 2010 season.

Conversions Are Key
One of the key's to NIU's offensive success so far this year has been the Huskies' ability to stay on the field by converting on third down. Northern Illinois converted on 11 of 13 third-down attempts in the Army game, including an 11-for-11 mark through the first three quarters behind Chandler Harnish. Versus Kansas, NIU converted just four of eight third downs, but the Huskies' overall conversion percentage of 71.4 (15-of-21) is still good enough to rank second in the country this week.

Novak's Last Class
Of the 19 seniors on Northern Illinois' 2011 roster, 13 are fifth-year players who signed with NIU as part of former head coach Joe Novak's last full signing class. The 13 were on the Huskie team that won just two games in 2007 but are now among a very small group of Northern Illinois players to have been on three bowl teams. Among NIU's 13 fifth-year seniors, 10 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 41-game starter Trevor Olson and four-year starting quarterback Chandler Harnish.

Defensive Experience Exists
The Huskies' defensive starting unit versus Army included seven players who had never started a game for NIU before and just three players with double digit starts. Defensive end Sean Progar, a junior entering his third year as the starter at that spot, linebacker Pat Schiller (15 starts) and safety Tommy Davis (16) are the two other most experienced defenders in terms of starts. While the starting experience is thin on defense, eight of the first 11 have played in at least 10 games and five have seen action in 25-plus games.

First-Timers
Twenty players have seen their first action in a Huskie uniform this year, but to date only two -- kickoff man Tyler Wedel (McFarland, Wis.) and linebacker turned defensive end Jason Meehan (St. Louis, Mo.) -- are true freshmen. A quartet of redshirt freshmen made their debuts as starters as fullback Luke Eakes, wide receiver Da'Ron Brown, linebacker Jamaal Bass and snapper Brian Mayer made key contributions. Transfers Jamal Womble (RB), Leighton Settle (RB), Jhony Faustin (DB) and Tim Semisch (TE) have also contributed early in their NIU careers.

Schiller Back in Familiar Spot
Senior Pat Schiller's name can be found in a familiar spot as the Geneva (Ill.) product returned not just to the NIU starting line-up, but to the middle linebacker spot, in 2011. After coming back from knee surgery that forced him to miss the first four games of last season, Schiller has regained the form that saw him make 82 tackles as a sophomore starter in 2009. Versus Army, he displayed that experience by making nine tackles, including two for loss and he added eight tackles versus Kansas to rank tied for first on the Northern Illinois team heading into the Wisconsin game.

Senior CLASS Nominee
For the second straight season, a Northern Illinois player has been selected as one of 30 candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for football as NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish was named to the elite list for 2011. The Lowe's Senior CLASS Award honors seniors who have achieved in the areas of community, classroom, character and competition. Harnish is not only a record-setting four-year starter for the Huskies on the field who became the first player to quarterback Northern Illinois in three bowl games, he has already received his bachelor's degree in business with a 3.65 grade point average and is working on his MBA. He overcame a career-threatening knee injury and adapted to working with three different head coaches and four quarterback coaches during his five seasons with the Huskies. Last year, Northern Illinois defensive end and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Jake Coffman narrowly lost out on winning the Senior CLASS Award. One of 10 finalists, he was named to the 2010 First Team.

Welcome Back
Dave Doeren's coaching staff includes a pair of familiar names. Linebackers coach Tom Matukewicz, who led NIU to a 40-17 victory over Fresno State in the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl and brought the team together after the abrupt departure of Jerry Kill on the day after the Mid-American Conference Championshp game, remains on Doeren's staff as linebackers coach. Doeren also brought Matt Canada back to Northern Illinois as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Canada was previously at NIU from 1998-2003 on Joe Novak's staff. He coached the Huskie running backs from 1998-2001, then mentored the NIU quarterbacks from 2001-03 and added offensive coordinator duties in 2003. In 2004, he left for Indiana, where he spent the last six seasons, including the last three as offensive coordinator.

Lofty Ranking
Northern Illinois is ranked among the best programs in the nation when it comes to a very important academic barometer, the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate (APR). Northern Illinois' 987 APR for 2009-10 puts the Huskies in elite company, behind only Northwestern (993) and Rutgers (988) and ahead of teams like Duke (986), Stanford (977) and Vanderbilt (977). One of 14 teams in the country to receive an NCAA Public Recognition Award, NIU's APR of 987 is 41 points above the national average. The Academic Progress Rate (APR) is the instrument used by the NCAA to measure the eligibility, retention and graduation of student-athletes.

Huskies in the NFL
As of Monday, Sept. 5 there are six active Huskies in the pros. The list is led by All-Pro running back Michael Turner (Atlanta Falcons), newly re-signed offensive linemen Doug Free (Dallas Cowboys) and Super Bowl winning offensive tackle Ryan Diem (Indianapolis Colts). Former NIU defensive end and current San Diego Chargers' outside linebacker Larry English, who became the highest NFL Draft choice in school history when he was selected with the 16th pick of the first round, enters his third season in the league in 2011. Wide receiver Sam Hurd returned to Illinois as a member of the Chicago Bears this offseason looking to make an even larger mark on the league after five seasons with Dallas.

Preseason Predictions
A year ago, Northern Illinois fulfilled preseason predictions and won the 2010 MAC West Division title after sweeping through the league with a perfect 8-0 regular season record. In 2011, the Huskies were picked everywhere from first to third in the West by the preseason magazines, with Blue Ribbon Magazine and The Sporting News picking NIU to repeat, Athlon and Lindy's putting the Huskies second and Phil Steele's Magazine predicting a third-place finish. The Mid-American Conference preseason pollsters, meanwhile, put the Huskies second in the West behind Toledo with the Rockets earning eight first-place votes and 83 points and NIU garnering five first-place selections and 81 total points. Western Michigan ranked third in the MAC poll with 76 points and two first-place votes. They were followed by Central Michigan, Ball State and Eastern Michigan.

Grads
The Huskies' 2011 roster features seven players - all on the offensive side of the ball - who have already earned their bachelor's degrees from Northern Illinois. Fullbacks Cameron Bell and Pat McAvoy, tight end Adam Kiel, wide receiver DeMarcus Grady, offensive linemen Trevor Olson and Keith Otis and quarterback Chandler Harnish are all either pursuing a second major, taking post-graduate courses, or are enrolled in grad school.