NIU Plays Host to Eastern Illinois in Home Opener

GO HUSKIES Tommylee Lewis
Tommylee Lewis

Sept. 17, 2013

GAME 3 - Eastern Illinois (3-0) at Northern Illinois (2-0)
Sept. 21, 2013 | 6 p.m. | DeKalb, Illinois | Huskie Stadium | 24,000
Radio: WIND 560 AM (Chicago) | WLBK 1360 AM & 98.9 FM (DeKalb) | ESPN3/WatchESPN

NIU-Eastern Illinois Notes Get Acrobat Reader

^Northern Illinois is one of the last six Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams to play its home opener as the Huskies meet Eastern Illinois Saturday at 6 p.m. at Huskie Stadium.
^NIU has won 23 of its last 25 games dating back to Oct. 1, 2011 and is 36-8 since the start of the 2010 season under three different head coaches.
^NIU received votes worth 24 points in this week's Associated Press Poll, and earned 26 points from the coaches in the USA Today Coaches' Weekly Poll. The totals lifted NIU to 29th in the AP poll and 33rd in the USA Today list.
^NIU has won 21 straight games in its home stadium, the longest such streak in the country. The Huskies' last loss at Huskie Stadium came on Sept. 26, 2009, 34-31, to Idaho.
^The Huskies also own the longest conference winning streak (17 games) in the country while its 10 straight wins in road games (since Oct. 1, 2011) rank second in the FBS.
^After falling behind 28-14 in the second quarter, Northern Illinois came back to record a 45-35 win at Idaho. The Huskie defense recorded nine sacks and gave up just seven second-half points as NIU tallied 31 of the game's last 38 points.
^Rod Carey is 2-1 in his first season as NIU's head coach after making his debut in the 2013 Orange Bowl. Carey was NIU's offensive coordinator in the last 12 games of 2012 and offensive line coach for the past two years.
^Northern Illinois receiver Tommylee Lewis and defensive tackle Ken Bishop picked up the MAC West Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week awards, respectively, for their performances at Idaho. Lewis carried the ball four times for 104 yards and Bishop made eight tackles.
^NIU and Eastern Illinois meet for the 37th time ever and for the first time since 1998, a 24-10 EIU win in Huskie Stadium.

The Last Meeting
Eastern Illinois24
Northern Illinois10
September 19, 1998
DeKalb, Ill.

2012 Record/MAC Record/Finish: 12-2/8-0/1st West
2012 Final Ranking: 22 (AP); 24 (USA Today Coaches)
Head Coach: Rod Carey
Record at NIU & Career Record/Years: 2-1/1st
Alma Mater/Year: Indiana/1993
Basic Offense/Defense: Multiple/4-3
First Year of Football: 1899
All-Time Record: 537-465-51
Last Bowl Game: 2013 Discover Orange Bowl (Florida State 31, NIU 10)
Consecutive Bowl Games: 5
MAC Championship Games: 4 (last, 2012, 44-37 W 2OT)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 54/16
Starters Returning: 16 (8 offense, 5 defense, 3 specialists)
Starters Lost: 11 (3 offense, 7 defense, 1 specialists)

Location: DeKalb, Illinois
Founded: 1895
Enrollment: 23,850
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: Dr. Douglas D. Baker
Assoc. VP/Athletic Director: Sean Frazier
Alma Mater, Year: Alabama `92
Ticket Information: 815-752-6800

Twitter: @NIUAthletics, @Lynchfor6, @PrideinthePack, @NIUscores
Facebook: NIU Huskies, Northern Illinois Football


2013 Record: 3-0
2012 Record: 7-5
Conference Record/Finish: 6-1 (1st)
Head Coach (Alma Mater/Year): Dino Babers (Hawaii/1984)
Record at EIU/Years: 10-5/2nd
Career Record/Years: 10-5/2nd
Location: Charleston, Illinois
Enrollment: 10,417
Conference: Ohio Valley (NCAA FCS)
Colors: Blue, Grey and White
Stadium: O'Brien Field
Surface/Capacity: Matrix Turf /10,000
President: Dr. William L. Perry
Athletic Director: Barbara Burke
Athletics Website:
Twitter: @EIU_Panthers
Ticket Information: 217-581-2106


Overall: NIU leads 25-10-1
In DeKalb: NIU leads 15-5
In Charleston: NIU leads 10-5-1
Streak: Eastern Illinois, 1
First Meeting: Nov. 15, 1902 - NIU 10, EIU 0 (H)
Last Meeting: Sept. 19, 1998 - EIU 24, NIU 10 (H)


Rod Carey, who spent the last two seasons on the coaching staff of the most successful teams ever at Northern Illinois, was named the 22nd head football coach in school history on Dec. 2, 2012. The 41-year old was promoted after serving as NIU's offensive coordinator during most of the 2012 season. On the same day Carey was introduced as the new head coach, Northern Illinois made history as the first Mid-American Conference team invited to play in a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) bowl game. Carey coached the Huskies in the bowl game, a 31-10 loss to Florida State. He spent his first two seasons at NIU helping guide two of the most prolific offenses in school history as the Huskies won back-to-back MAC championships and 11-or-more games each year. In 2012 Carey added run game coordinator to his duties as offensive line coach. Already faced with replacing five starters on the offensive line Carey assumed offensive coordinator duties after the first game of the year. In his first season at NIU, Carey mentored two All-Americans and three all-conference selections. Center Scott Wedige and left tackle Trevor Olson were named All-Americans by and Phil Steele's magazine, respectively. A three-year starter at center for Indiana, Carey served as a team captain and won IU's Corby Davis Outstanding Offensive Player Award as a senior, playing for former Northern Illinois head coach Bill Mallory. He earned his bachelor's degree from Indiana in 1994. Carey joined the Huskies after three seasons as the offensive line coach at the University of North Dakota. His line paved the way for UND 1,000-yard rusher Josh Murray (1,146 yards) in 2008 and for the No. 2 running back in the Great West Conference a year later. Five of Carey's offensive linemen earned GWC all-conference honors in his last three seasons. Prior to going to North Dakota, Carey spent the 2007 season as the offensive line coach at Illinois State. From 2000-06, Carey coached at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, where he was the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. His offensive units averaged nearly 400 yards per game during his seven seasons and set 14 records, including the all-time conference rushing record. In all, Carey coached 26 all-conference selections and seven All-Americans during his time at UW-Stout. A native of Wayzata, Minn., Carey began his collegiate coaching career at the University of Minnesota (1998-99) where he helped the Gophers to their first bowl game in over a decade with a trip to the 1999 Sun Bowl. Prior to UM, he spent four seasons in the high school ranks at his alma mater, Wayzata (Minn.) High School, from 1994-97. Carey and his wife Tonya have two children, daughter Kennedi (8) and son Charlie (6).


The Redesigned
-- Northern Illinois Athletics unveiled its redesigned website at, on August 29
-- The new site features a larger video player, a social media hub on the front page of the site, and easy-to-find links to tickets, promotions and fan information.
-- Fans can connect with new Assoc. VP and Director of Athletics Sean Frazier in "Frazier's Corner" and link to GameDay Central.

Watch the Eastern Illinois Game on ESPN3
-- The NIU-Eastern Illinois game will be streamed live on ESPN3 and available to mobile users via WatchESPN.
-- Mike Couzens and Bob Chmiel wil call the game for ESPN3
-- WatchESPN requires an active subscription from an affiliated provider
-- For more information, go to and click on FAQ and check NIU's GameDay Central for the link.

Huskies-Panthers on the Radio
-- The Northern Illinois IMG Sports Network broadcast begins at 5:30 p.m. CT, 30 minutes before kickoff.
NIU network affiliates that will carry the Eastern Illinois game are WLBK 1360 AM (DeKalb) and 98.9 FM and WIND AM 560 (Chicago).
-- Bill Baker is in his 34th season as the play-by-play voice of the Huskies and is joined by 28-year color analyst Mark Lindo and Andy Garcia, who begins his first season on the sidelines.
-- The game can also be heard online via NIUTube, accessible through

NIU Weekly Radio Show
-- NIU's weekly 30-minute show on WSCR 670 AM in Chicago highlights the best of Huskie Athletics.
-- The show airs on WSCR AM 670 The Score in Chicago on Saturday mornings at 7:30 a.m.
-- WLBK 1360 AM/98.9 FM in DeKalb will carry the show at 6:30 p.m. Friday nights.
-- Hosted by Andy Garcia and NIU Associate Vice-President/Director of Athletics Sean Frazier
-- Features a weekly interview with football head coach Rod Carey, other NIU head coaches and the latest Huskie news.

-- Hear all NIU live radio broadcasts, including football and basketball games and NIU radio shows.
-- Watch live Huskie games and see weekly and post-game press conferences, video features and special events.
-- Cost is $6.95/month or $49.95/year
-- Go to


HOME AT LAST: Northern Illinois plays its first of five 2013 home games Saturday at Huskie Stadium, where the Huskies will be looking to extend a 21-game winning streak. NIU is one of just six Football Bowl Subdivision teams that has not played a home game yet (Alabama, UAB, Florida Atlantic, Miami [Ohio], Western Kentucky).

HOME SWEET HOME: NIU's 21-game winning streak at Huskie Stadium ranks as the longest by a Football Bowl Subdivision team in its home stadium. The Huskies' streak dates back to Sept. 26, 2009, when NIU dropped a 34-31 decision to Idaho. Ninety-six players on this year's roster have never experienced a loss on Brigham Field with only the Huskies' nine fifth-year seniors on hand the last time NIU lost a game at home.

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE: With a 46-11 record since 2003, Northern Illinois has raised its all-time record at Huskie Stadium to 152-97-2 for a .609 winning percentage. Five of those 11 home losses occurred in just one season - 2007.

FCS SUCCESS: Since moving to the "major college" ranks in 1969, Northern Illinois has enjoyed success versus opponents in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). NIU owns an 11-2 record versus FCS opponents since 2000 and has won five straight games. The Huskies' last loss to an FCS team was in 2007 when Southern Illinois defeated the Huskies 34-31 at Huskie Stadium.

RENEWING ACQUAINTANCES: NIU and Eastern Illinois meet for the 37th time, but have not played since 1998, when EIU claimed a 24-10 win over the Huskies at Huskie Stadium. Northern Illinois owns a 25-10-1 edge in the all-time series, which dates back to 1902, NIU's fourth year of football. Northern Illinois and Eastern Illinois played nine times in 10 years from 1933-42, and then every year from 1944 through 1965 as members of the Little 19 and then Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC). The teams have played just three times since 1990. EIU's win in 1998 was the Panthers' only victory in the last 12 meetings.

UNCOMMON: After defeating Idaho, 45-35, in Moscow, Northern Illinois is 2-0 to start a season for the first time since 2003, when the Huskies opened the season 7-0. In the 10 years since (including 2013), NIU has lost its first game eight times. In 2011, the last time the Huskies won their opener, they lost their second game.

IN-STATE FOES: NIU is 99-73-13 all-time versus current FBS and FCS schools in Illinois for a winning percentage of .570. Twenty-eight of Northern Illinois' in-state wins have come versus Southern Illinois with the Huskies' 25 wins against both Eastern and Illinois State second-most among that group. NIU is also 21-17-1 versus Western Illinois. The Huskies are 0-4 versus Illinois and 0-6-1 in seven meetings with Northwestern. NIU last played an in-state opponent in 2010 when the Huskies lost to Illinois (28-22) in Champaign. The Huskies' last win over an in-state foe was the previous season (2009), when NIU defeated Western Illinois at home, 41-7.

THE I'S HAVE IT: Each of the Huskies' 2013 non-conference opponents hails from the four states that begin with the letter I. NIU opened its season with road games at Iowa and at Idaho before returning home to face Eastern Illinois this week. NIU closes out the non-conference slate versus Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana next Saturday.

HITTING THE ROAD: Northern Illinois will play four of its first five games of the season on the road and has just five home games in 2013. After playing its first two games of the season at Iowa and at Idaho (with an open date in between), the EIU game is NIU's lone home game until October 12. Northern Illinois plays on the road at Purdue (Sept. 28) and at Kent State (Oct. 5) before returning home to play Akron.

I KNOW YOU: A handful of Huskies will see former teammates across the field on Saturday as NIU's roster contains 53 players from Illinois while Eastern Illinois has 45 Illinoisans. A quick glance through the rosters shows eight NIU-EIU prep (or before) connection. High schools with players on both rosters include Marist and Mt. Carmel (Chicago), Rich Central (Olympia Fields), Marian Central Catholic (Marengo), Belvidere North (Belvidere) and Montini Catholic (Lombard).

ANOTHER COMEBACK: NIU outscored Idaho 35-7 in the final two-and-a-half quarters of the game to claim a 45-35 win at the Kibbie Dome. The Huskies trailed 28-14 with 9:35 to play in the first half after the Vandals hit a long play to score for the third time in the game. Northern Illinois scored before halftime to pull within seven points, then posted the only two touchdowns of the third quarter and took the lead for the first time on a 61-yard touchdown run by Jordan Lynch. After Idaho re-tied the game at 35, NIU scored the last 10 points of the game - on a 51-yard field goal by Mathew Sims and a 13-yard touchdown pass from Lynch to Luke Eakes - to claim the win.

SACK PARTY: The Huskies "officially" finished the Idaho game with nine quarterback sacks, one off the school record of 10 set in 2002 at Wisconsin, and totaled 13 tackles for loss. Seven different NIU players were credited with sacks, led by Joe Windsor who finished with two solo sacks. Mario Jones, Perez Ford and linebacker Rasheen Lemon had 1.5 sacks apiece, Jason Meehan and George Rainey chipped in with one takedown each and Jamaal Bass was credited with half a sack.

SECOND HALF D: For the second straight game, the Northern Illinois defense held its opponent to just one second-half score. Iowa managed only one fourth-quarter field goal in NIU's 30-27 come-from-behind win, while Idaho scored on a one-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. NIU has not been scored on in the third quarter in its two games this year. After giving up 302 and 279 yards in the first half to Iowa and Idaho, respectively, those opponents earned just 156 and 159 yards in the second halves of those games.

HUSKIES TAKE TWO: For the second time in as many games, two Huskie players were named Mid-American Conference West Division Players of the Week. Wide receiver Tommylee Lewis picked up the offensive award and Ken Bishop was the MAC West Defensive POTW after NIU's win over Idaho. Lewis had a career-best nine catches for 56 yards but it was his 104 rushing yards on four carries that did in the Vandals. Bishop "quietly" led the NIU defensive line with a career-high eight tackles, six solo, a fumble recovery and a tackle for loss. The MAC weekly honor was the third of Lewis' career but his first as an offensive player, while Bishop picked up his second career MAC POTW award.

BIG KICKS CONTINUE: Senior kicker Mathew Sims made a crucial three for the second game in a row when he hit a 51-yard field goal with 10:49 to play to give the Huskies a 38-35 lead. The field goal was the second-longest of Sims' career (after his school-record 54-yard kick vs. Western Michigan a year ago) and tied for the fifth longest in school history. In NIU's season-opener, Sims made his third career game-winner when he hit from 36 yards out with four seconds to play to lift NIU to a 30-27 win at Iowa. Sims made a pair of game-winning threes in 2011 - the first to defeat Ball State at home (41-38) and the second to win the MAC Championship game over Ohio (23-20). He also hit a game-tying field goal in the 2012 MAC Championship game to send the game into double overtime.

WHAT A RUSH: NIU netted 356 rushing yards on 48 carries at Idaho, led by Jordan Lynch's first 100-yard game of the season (and 15th of his career) and Tommylee Lewis' first career 100-yard rushing game. With Lynch running 23 times for 159 yards and a 6.9-yard average and Lewis going for 104 yards on only four carries, NIU averaged 7.4 yards per rush as a team. The Huskies, whose history as a rushing team is well-documented going back to Michael Turner and Garrett Wolfe, are averaging 259.5 yards per game on the ground to rank 22nd in the nation and first in the MAC.

MULTIPLE THREAT: Junior Tommylee Lewis is making it clear that the Huskies are more than just Jordan Lynch. After catching two touchdown passes - of 40 and 21 yards - in only one half of play at Iowa, Lewis carried the ball four times for 104 yards and made nine catches for 56 yards at Idaho. Lewis picked up a career-long 50 yards on one carry and had a 29-yard run later in the game. He ranks second on the team in rushing, leads NIU in catches and is averaging 123 all-purpose yards per game. The junior has 12 touchdowns in his NIU career with seven receiving, two rushing and three kickoff return scores.

FEELING SPECIAL: In addition to Mathew Sims' 51-yard field goal, there were several bright spots for the Huskie special teams at Idaho. With 1:01 to play in the first half, George Rainey got his hands on Idaho's 39-yard field goal try for the first blocked kick of his career, the first for NIU since 2011, when Ron Newcomb got his hands on a Kent State field goal (10-8). In the third quarter, Huskie punt returner Angelo Sebastiano turned in a career-long 44-yard punt return, the longest by NIU since Tommylee Lewis' 44-yard return at Western Michigan a year ago.

GREAT START: NIU opened the season by defeating Iowa, 30-27, on a 36-yard field goal by Mathew Sims with four seconds to play. Sims' kick came two plays after safety Jimmie Ward's interception gave the Huskies the ball on the Iowa 30 with 1:17 to play and the score tied at 27. NIU led 10-0 in the first quarter, but Iowa scored 17 straight points and led 24-17 at halftime and 27-20 with 6:42 to play. Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch hit Da'Ron Brown from 33-yards out with 5:05 on the clock to tie the game, paving the way for heroics by Ward and Sims.

MAC HONORS: Following the Iowa win, NIU kicker Mathew Sims and quarterback Jordan Lynch were named the Mid-American Conference West Division Special Teams and Offensive Players of the Week, respectively. Sims made all three of his field goal attempts, and capped his day by hitting the game-winner from 36 yards out with four seconds on the clock. Lynch accounted for 331 yards of total offense by completing 25-of-41 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns and leading NIU in rushing with 56 yards on 22 carries.

BIG PLAY: Senior safety Jimmie Ward made arguably the biggest single play of the Iowa game with his one-handed interception with 1:17 to play and the score tied 27-27. Ward perfectly read the out route he had seen multiple times during the game, broke on the ball and snagged it with his non-casted hand. He returned his fifth career interception to the Iowa 30-yard line. Ward, who has made 100-or-more tackles in back-to-back years, also led the Huskies in stops with 13 for his 11th career game with double-digit tackles.

FROSH FACES: Six redshirt and three true freshmen made their Northern Illinois debuts at Iowa, led by defensive tackle Mario Jones, who started the game and was in on a pair of tackles. Jones' classmates Clayton Glasper (WR), Cody Hazelett (LB), Mike Ippolito (DT), Charles Ivory (S) and Levon Myers (OT) and true freshmen Mycial Allen (S), Aregeros Turner (WR) and Austin Smaha (LB) also saw their first action in Cardinal and Black. Ippolito and Allen played on the Huskie defense, Turner and Glasper took snaps with the Huskie offense, while Hazelett, Ivory, Allen and Smaha saw action on special teams.

TRAINING GROUND: There are five current FBS head coaches who previously coached at Northern Illinois, beginning with Minnesota's Jerry Kill and N.C. State's Dave Doeren. Kill served as the Huskies' head coach from 2008-10, while Doeren coached at NIU in 2011 and `12. New Syracuse head coach Scott Schaefer spent eight seasons (1996-2003) at NIU as defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach under Joe Novak while new Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck played at Northern Illinois (2000-03) and then returned to coach wide receivers from 2007-09. Georgia State head coach Trent Miles spent the 1991-94 campaigns with the Huskies as wide receivers coach.

SENIOR CLASS: The Huskies' 2013 roster includes 17 seniors and 14 are listed on the depth chart with 10 slated to start. Although NIU graduated four players off its defensive line a year ago, the 2013 group features six seniors, including starters George Rainey, Ken Bishop and Joe Windsor and back-ups Stephen O'Neal and Zach Anderson. The other large concentration of seniors is at defensive back where Jimmie Ward, Jhony Faustin, Dominique Ware and Sean Evans are the backbone of the Huskies' secondary. Northern Illinois has three seniors on the offensive line in Matt Krempel, Jared Volk and Matt Battaglia, who was honored as a senior last year but redshirted due to injury and has returned for his final season. Quarterback Jordan Lynch and kicker Mathew Sims, a three-year starter, round out the list of seniors on the depth chart. Senior Nate McNeal is not on the depth chart but is on several of the Huskie special teams, while running back Akeem Daniels remains sidelined as does defensive lineman Anthony Wells.

GRADS: The Northern Illinois roster includes five players who have already earned their undergraduate degrees. Offensive tackle Matt Krempel earned his degree in health sciences (pre-physical therapy) in Spring of 2012 and is well on his way to a graduate degree. Fellow offensive lineman Jared Volk and safety Dominique Ware graduated from the NIU College of Business in May 2013, while offensive lineman Matt Battaglia (history) and quarterback Jordan Lynch (kinesiology/exercise science) completed their degrees this past summer.



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