Oct. 18, 2011
Complete Release in PDF Format
2011 NORTHERN ILLINOIS HUSKIES FOOTBALL
Northern Illinois (4-3, 2-1) at Buffalo (2-5, 1-2)
Oct. 22, 2011 | 11 a.m. (CT) | ESPN Regional | ESPN3
Buffalo, N.Y. | UB Stadium | 29,020
HUSKIE FOOTBALL FACTS
2011 Record/MAC Record: 4-3/2-1
2010 Record: 11-3
MAC (Regular Season) Record/Finish: 8-0/1st, West Division
Head Coach: Dave Doeren
Record at NIU & Career Record: 4-3/First Year
Alma Mater/Year: Drake/1994
Basic Offense/Defense: Multiple/4-3
First Year of Football: 1899
All-Time Record: 516-463-51
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
2011 Record/Conference Record: 2-5, 1-2
2010 Record/Conference Record/Finish: 2-10/1-7 5th East
Head Coach: Jeff Quinn
Alma Mater/Year: Elmhurst '84
Record at Buffalo/Year: 4-15/2nd
Career Record/Year: 5-16/2nd
Location: Buffalo, N.Y.
Colors: Blue & White
Stadium: UB Stadium
Surface/Capacity: Sportexe Momentum/29,013
President: Satish K. Tripathi
Athletic Director: Warde Manuel
Ticket Information: 1-877-UB-THERE
Athletics Website: www.buffalobulls.com
FB Media Relations Contact: Jon Fuller
Phone: 716-645-6762 (O); 716-359-2728(C)
E-Mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
2011 UB SCHEDULE
Overall: NIU leads 6-1
In Buffalo: NIU leads 2-0
In MAC Games: NIU leads 5-0
Streak: NIU, 6
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. After winning his first game as the head coach of the Huskies, Doeren's career and NIU record now stands at 4-3. Doeren came to NIU after five seasons at Wisconsin. After spending two seasons as the Badgers' co-defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator, he added defensive coordinator duties in January 2008. 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. Doeren's UW 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. He and his wife, Sara, have three sons - Jacob, Luke and Connor.
WATCH Buffalo-NIU ON ESPN Plus/espn3
The Northern Illinois-Buffalo game is part of ESPN's syndicated package of MAC games televised in 24 markets across the country, including Detroit, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Indianapolis and Cincinnati. In Illinois, the game can be seen on WPWR My50 in Chicago and WTVO ABC 17 in Rockford. The game will also be available on ESPN3 through the WatchESPN.com website. Michael Reghi handles the play-by-play call with former coach Doug Graber alongside 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)
Each week, the broadcast kicks off with the pregame show 30 minutes prior to kick off. Hall of Fame broadcaster Bill Baker is in 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 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.
The best source for all of the latest NIU Athletics news and information, statistics, press releases and more is NIUHuskies.com. The Huskies' official athletics website includes video, links to live stats coverage, complete bios on Huskie players and coaches and archives.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS NEWS & NOTES
Northern Illinois embarks on a three-game Mid-American Conference road trip with a rare trip to face MAC East foe Buffalo this Saturday. The game also marks the end of the "Saturday" portion of the Huskies' 2011 schedule as NIU's next three games will be played on Tuesdays.
Two of the "outlying" Mid-American Conference schools - Buffalo on the eastern edge and Northen Illinois at the west - meet for just the eighth time on the football field and for the sixth time as league opponents. This is only the third time the Huskies have played at Buffalo and the first time since 2003 that NIU has traveled to western New York. NIU has won every MAC contest between the teams and has won six straight games over the Bulls overall after losing the series opener in 1968 by a 20-7 score. Since that time, Northern Illinois has claimed wins over Buffalo by 17, 24, 63, 31, 18 and 34 points.
Second Half Surge
In the last meeting between NIU and Buffalo, the Huskies turned a 21-14 halftime lead into a 45-14 homecoming victory in DeKalb behind a strong rushing game and a solid defensive performance. Chad Spann gained 111 yards on 31 carries and scored twice, and Chandler Harnish added 75 yards on the ground while the Northern Illinois defense limited Buffalo to 130 yards on the ground and 9-of-26 passing for 120 yards, with 81 yards coming on one play. With NIU leading 38-14 in the fourth quarter, Jordan Lynch iced the win with a 90-yard TD run.
Doeren's Debut Season
Northern Illinois Head Coach Dave Doeren is 4-3 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).
Northern Illinois is in its 26th season as a member of the Mid-American Conference in 2011. The Huskies earned their 100th win as a MAC team in the final regular season league outing last year with a 71-3 win at Eastern Michigan. In MAC games, Northern Illinois is 102-90-2 all-time and the Huskies are 67-45 (.598) in conference games since rejoining the MAC in 1997. NIU is playing its 15th consecutive campaign as a member of the MAC and also competed as a league member from 1975-85.
The MAC Road
Northern Illinois has posted a 23-13 (.639) record versus Mid-American Conference foes on the road since 2002, but dropped its 2011 MAC road opener at Central Michigan on Oct. 1. All-time, NIU is 44-52-1 (.459) in road league games, but since rejoining the MAC in 1997, the Huskies have posted a 30-26 road mark versus MAC teams.
Recapping Western Michigan
Northern Illinois scored 44 straight points to turn a 15-7 deficit into a 51-15 lead, and eventually, a 51-22 victory over MAC West leader Western Michigan at Huskie Stadium Saturday. NIU racked up 697 yards of total offense - the second-highest total in school history - and held WMU's high-flying offense in check all game, surrendering just 91 rushing and 233 passing yards on 48 throws. NIU quarterbacks Chandler Harnish (229) and Jordan Lynch (113) combined for 342 rushing yards while Jasmin Hopkins (3) and Akeem Daniels (2) accounted for five rushing touchdowns on the day. Mathew Sims hit three field goals; the Huskies did not punt in the game.
If You're Counting
The Buffalo game will be the 1,031st game in Northern Illinois history and the Huskies will be looking for their 517th victory all-time. NIU played its 1,000th game and won its 500th, in 2009 and has a 516-463-51 all-time record for a winning percentage of .526. Over the past 11 seasons (since 2000), Northern Illinois is 83-59 (.584) with nine winning campaigns to record the best mark of any of the three Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the state of Illinois.
Northern Illinois has 36 Chicagoland natives on its 110-man roster in 2011. NIU's Chicago contingent includes starters Da'Ron Brown, Jack Marks, Joe Pawlak, Keith Otis and Willie Clark on offense, along with Alan Baxter, Ron Newcomb, Nabal Jefferson, Sean Progar, Pat Schiller and Rashaan Melvin on defense.
Forty is the New 30
Northern Illinois tied its school record for most 40-point games in a season with its sixth 40-point performance Saturday versus Western Michigan. The Huskies have scored 40 or more points in every game but one this year, including in two of NIU's three losses. With one more 40-point game, the 2011 Huskies will break the mark they currently share with the 2010 and 2000 NIU teams. NIU is averaging 39.6 points per game, above last year's average of 38.0 points per game, which stands as the school record.
He's No Newcomb-er
Huskie senior Ron Newcomb, who entered the Kent State game with one career sack and six tackles for loss, spent the day in the KSU backfield as he totaled 2.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss versus the Golden Flashes. Newcomb had a career high nine tackles to lead NIU, he forced a fumble and blocked a field goal. The Indiana native, who has already posted his career best SEASON with 26 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, was named the MAC West Defensive Player of the Week. His eight tackles for loss lead Northern Illinois and rank in the top 10 in the MAC.
A Pretty Good Day
Northern Illinois held Kent State to just 64 total yards on 62 offensive plays, the lowest total net yards by an NIU opponent since the Huskies joined the Major College (Division I FBS) ranks in 1969. NIU's all-time record for fewest yards of total offense in a game is minus 40 versus Southern Illinois on Oct. 6, 1951. The Flashes' one rushing yard on 38 carries is the lowest total since the Huskies held Miami (Ohio) to a school-record minus 11 rushing yards on Oct. 24, 2009. The 63 passing yards is the fewest since Eastern Michigan tallied just 11 yards through the air last year (Nov. 26, 2010). In addition, Northern Illinois' 15 tackles for loss is the most since NIU had a school-record 16 versus Eastern Michigan in 2002 (11-16), while the 84 yards lost is 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 the most by NIU since Oct. 24, 2009 versus Miami, when NIU totaled eight sacks.
The 200-200 Club
Chandler Harnish put himself in the NCAA record books with a rare 200-200 performance versus Western Michigan. Harnish became only the 10th player in NCAA 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 to power the Huskie offense. Harnish joined an elite list of players that includes Texas' Vince Young (2005), Patrick White of West Virginia (2006), Brad Smith of Missouri (2005), Indiana's Antwaan Randle El (2000) and Michigan's Denard Robinson (2010). To date, Robinson is the only player to have two 200-200 games. Harnish's 432-yard total offense day earned him Mid-American Conference West Division Offensive Player of the Week honors for the second time this season.
Huskie quarterback Chandler Harnish became the first MAC player to rush for 200 or more yards this season with his 229-yard effort versus Western Michigan and the performance ranks eighth among all players and is the top rushing total by any FBS quarterback this season. 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 306-yard total in that October win over Fresno State.
He's Got Legs
Chandler Harnish is only the second Huskie quarterback all-time to surpass the 2,000-yard mark in career rushing yards as he now ranks 11th on NIU's all-time rushing list with 2,275 yards on 426 carries. Harnish joined Stacey Robinson (2,727 yards on 428 carries from 1988-90) as one of only two quarterbacks in the NIU 2,000-yard club. He needs 158 yards to move into the Top 10. Harnish also has 20 career rushing scores, seven in 2011, to rank 10th at NIU. He has led NIU in rushing three times this season and currently ranks fourth in the MAC in rushing.
Harnish claimed a fifth school record Saturday as he broke Chris Finlen's record for career pass attempts. Harnish's 27 attempts versus WMU give him 915 for his career, surpassing Finlen's 910 thrown between 1997-2001. Harnish broke the records for career passing yards, most total offense plays and career 300-yard passing games versus Central Michigan. The passing yards and 300-yard passing games marks have been held by George Bork for the past 48 years, while Marshall Taylor (1985-88) had the record for plays. The previous week, Harnish broke Bork's record for touchdowns responsible for. He set the NIU record for career total offense yards as a junior. Harnish will set a new record for career pass completions with four more and needs nine touchdown passes to claim that mark.
Chandler on the Charts
As a redshirt freshman starting his first career game at Minnesota in 2008, Chandler Harnish threw for 326 yards on 17-of-29 passing. Versus Central Michigan on Oct. 1, 2011, Harnish surpassed that mark with 370 yards on 27-of-50 passing. 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. The 50 pass attempts also rank fifth on the single-game list. Harnish's 462 yards of total offense (370 pass, 92 rush) are the second-most by an NIU player, topped only by Phil Horvath's 477-yard game versus Akron on Sept. 24, 2005.
Chandler Harnish began his senior season with a career-best five touchdown passes - thrown to five different receivers - versus Army. His five TD passes were the most by an NIU quarterback since Sept. 17, 2005, when Phil Horvath threw six versus Akron. The performance, which included a one-yard rushing score, earned Harnish MAC West Offensive Player of the Week honors. He also was selected the MAC Player of the Week by rivals.com.
NIU returned one of the top offensive lines in the country with redshirt seniors Trevor Olson (LT), Scott Wedige (C), Joe Pawlak (RG) and Keith Otis (RT) and redshirt junior Logan Pegram (LG) returning as a unit for the second straight season. Behind that line, NIU has the No. 1 scoring offense and total offense in the MAC and the Huskies lead the league and rank 12th in the country in fewest sacks allowed. Northern Illinois has given up one sack or less in six of the team's seven games so far this year. The five veterans up front have made 140 combined starts, led by Olson's 47 (every game of his NIU career) and Pawlak's 34. Otis and Wedige have 21 starts each and Pegram has started 17 contests.
A Difference in the Defense
In the last two games, the Huskie defense has made a dramatic turnaround. A comparison of Northern Illinois' key defensive statistics following the Central Michigan game, in the last two games, and now.
Thru CMU Last 2 Games Current
|Points Per Game|| 39.6 || 16.0 || 32.9|
|Rushing Yards/Game||259.0 || 46.0|| 198.1|
|Passing Yards/Game||240.8 || 148.0 || 214.3|
|Total Yards/Game||499.8 || 194.0 || 412.4|
|Third Down Conv. Pct.|| 37-71 (52%) || 7-35 (20%)|| 44-106 (42%)|
In the Backfield
Over the last two games, Northern Illinois defenders have camped out in the opponents' backfield with 24 tackles for losses of 138 yards and 12 quarterback sacks for minus 104 yards. The Huskies totaled eight sacks and 15 TFLs in the Kent State game and four sacks and nine tackles for loss versus WMU. Defensive tackle Ron Newcomb has 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks over the last two games, while Sean Progar has tallied three sacks and 4.5 TFLs. Progar also recorded a sack at Central Michigan and his output in league play has moved him to the top spot in the MAC in quarterback sacks with a season total of 4.5 quarterback sacks for .64 per game.
Defensive Lineman's Dream
Nabal Jefferson fulfilled a defensive lineman's dream versus Kent State when he picked off an attempted screen pass and returned it 25 yards for NIU's first touchdown and the first score for the Huskie defense this season. Northern Illinois picked off a season-best two passes versus WMU with safety Demetrius Stone and linebacker Michael Santacaterina each notching their first career INTs. NIU's interceptions have been by defensive linemen (2), defensive backs (2) and linebackers with DT Zach Anderson (Wisconsin) and CB Rashaan Melvin (Army) making the other interceptions for NIU.
Field Goal Frenzy
After making 11 field goals over the past three weeks, sophomore kicker Mathew Sims has 13 three-pointers on the season and is ranked fifth in the country in field goals with 1.86 per game. He made four-of-six field goals at Central Michigan, and hit all four of his three pointers versus Kent State. Sims hit field goals of 31, 32, 44 and 34 yards in the KSU game and was named one of the Lou Groza Award "Stars of the Week." Sims' perfect day tied for the top percentage day in school history and was the first time since 2000 that an NIU kicker went four-for-four or better on threes. He added three field goals versus WMU with a long of 36.
In the Zone
NIU is ranked third in the MAC in red zone offense with 36 scores in 40 trips inside the opponents' 20-yard line. The Huskies have scored 25 touchdowns and 11 field goals from inside the 20 for a 90 percent rate. Northern Illinois has actually been in the red zone eight more times than any other school in the league and have eight scores more than any other school. NIU's 25 TDs is four more than the No. 2 team and has made two more field goals. The Huskies are tied for 22nd in the country in red zone offense.
Twenty-six players have seen their first action as Huskies this year, including true freshmen Tyler Wedel, Jason Meehan, Rob Sterling and Tommylee Lewis. Five redshirt freshmen have made their debuts as starters as Luke Eakes (TE/FB), Da'Ron Brown (WR), Jamaal Bass (LB), Dechane Durante (S) and snapper Brian Mayer have made key contributions. Transfers Jamal Womble (RB), Leighton Settle (RB), Jhony Faustin (DB) and Tim Semisch (TE) have also played their first games as Huskies with Faustin and Semisch earning starts.
On the Blocks
Northern Illinois blocked a punt and a field goal versus Kent State and the Huskies have now blocked four kicks this season, including three punts. Versus KSU, Dechane Durante became the latest NIU defender to record a punt block, while Ron Newcomb knocked down a late Flashes' field goal attempt. NIU's other punt blocks this season have been by Courtney Stephen, who got his hands on a Cal Poly effort, and Jimmie Ward. Stephen recovered Ward's block versus Army and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown. Ward, a sophomore, already has four career punt blocks. A year ago, the Huskies blocked five punts and seven total kicks.
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 award honors seniors who have achieved in the community, classroom, character and competition. Harnish, the Huskies' record-setting four-year starting QB, overcame a career-threatening knee injury and has played for three different head coaches and four quarterback coaches during his five seasons with the Huskies. Last year, NIU defensive end and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Jake Coffman narrowly lost out on winning the Senior CLASS Award. One of 10 finalists, Coffman was named to the 2010 First Team.
NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish was named a semifinalist for the 2011 William V. Campbell Trophy and a candidate for one of 15 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented annually to the top football student-athletes who combine excellence on the field of play with excellence in the classroom. Harnish is one of only 47 Football Bowl Subdivision candidates for the awards. He earned his undergraduate degree in business management from the NIU College of Business last spring with a 3.65 grade point average and is currently pursuing his M.B.A.
So Long Saturdays
The Buffalo game marks Northern Illinois' last Saturday game of the season. NIU will have 10 days between the game at Buffalo and the first of three straight Tuesday games, on Nov. 1 at Toledo. The next Tuesday, Northern Illinois returns to Ohio to take on Bowling Green Nov. 8 before playing host to Ball State on Tuesday, Nov. 15 in DeKalb. The Huskies' final game of the season is Friday, Nov. 26 versus Eastern Michigan.
While nine different Huskies have caught touchdown passes in 2011, three veterans have separated themselves at the top of the NIU receiving charts. Perez Ashford, Nathan Palmer and Martel Moore have combined to catch 73 of Northern Illinois 133 completions for 883 yards and six touchdowns. A junior from Ohio, Ashford leads the way in catches and yards with 26 grabs for 311 yards, followed closely by Palmer (25-291) and Moore (22-281). Texan Moore's four touchdown passes lead NIU. Indiana native Palmer has caught at least one pass in every game this season, while Moore's six-game streak was broken last week and Ashford has at least one catch in six straight games. Palmer has the top catch day of the year with nine versus Kansas while Moore totaled 130 receiving yards at Central Michigan.
Back in his familiar middle linebacker position for the first time since 2009, senior Pat Schiller is leading the Huskie defense and ranks tied for fifth in the MAC in tackles. Schiller has 58 tackles on the year, already his second best single season total, with 26 solo stops and 32 assists. He has already recorded a career best 7.5 tackles for loss on the season and has 183 career tackles. Schiller led NIU in tackles versus Western Michigan with 10, earned his second quarterback sack of the season and broke up a pair of passes, doubling his CAREER total going into the game.
Back in Black
Northern Illinois unveiled new black jerseys versus Kent State and went with an "all black" look for the first time since the early 1990s. The Huskies wore red jerseys with black pants at home throughout the Joe Novak and Jerry Kill eras. The black jerseys featured red panels underneath each arm. NIU has had the jerseys since this summer and head coach Dave Doeren made the decision to break them out to start the October homestand. Northern Illinois wore black again versus Western Michigan and will be "back in black" for NIU's annual "Black Out" game versus Ball State on Nov. 15.
After making a name for himself as a true freshman in 2010 as a special teams star with three blocked punts, defensive back Jimmie Ward has become an every down player in the Huskies' defensive backfield at safety. He currently ranks second on the team in tackles with 54 and his 27 solo stops are tied for second on the squad. He made a career high and team leading 11 stops versus Wisconsin after had 10 tackles the week before at Kansas. The Alabama native also has a quarterback sack, two tackles for loss, a blocked punt and two pass break ups on the season.
Home SEVEN Home
Through five of its seven 2011 home games, Northern Illinois has posted a 4-1 record, including a 4-0 mark at Huskie Stadium. The lone loss came to No. 4 Wisconsin in Chicago at Soldier Field Showdown II. NIU's seven home games is the most since 2003, when the Huskies played seven games at Huskie Stadium and went 7-0 in those games en route to a 10-2 record. Northern Illinois played just five home games in 2011. The Wisconsin game marked NIU's second Chicago game after opening the 2007 season versus Iowa at Soldier Field. Northern Illinois returns to the site for the 2012 season opener versus Iowa.
Back to September
Northern Illinois posted a 2-2 record in non-conference play for the third straight season as NIU completed its 2011 non-league slate in the first four weeks of the year. The Huskies won their season opener for the first time since 2003 with a 49-26 victory over Army, then dropped a 45-42 decision at Kansas when the Jayhawks scored on fourth and goal with nine seconds left in the game. The Huskies ran into a powerful Wisconsin team in Chicago and fell to the No. 7 ranked Badgers 49-7 in Soldier Field Showdown II before defeating Cal Poly 47-30 in the non-conference finale to reach the 2-2 mark.
Northern Illinois is ranked among the best football programs in the nation according to the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate (APR). NIU's 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 APR measures the eligibility, retention and graduation of student-athletes.
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 among a very small group of Northern Illinois players to have played 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 47-game starter Trevor Olson at left tackle and four-year starting quarterback Chandler Harnish.
During Soldier Field Showdown II in Chicago, Northern Illinois announced that Dr. Kenneth and Ellen Chessick have made the largest gift ever to Huskie Athletics to name the Kenneth and Ellen Chessick Practice Center. The Chessicks' $3 million naming gift was the lead donation in the initial phase of fundraising for the facility and the Huskies' received two additional gifts of more than $1 million, marking the first time that has happened in NIU history. The formal announcement of the campaign was held onSaturday, Oct. 15 (see release page 11). Dr. Kenneth Chessick, a surgeon and attorney who graduated from the Northern Illinois College of Law in 1984 and from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1968 and is the founder of the website Restaurant.com, and his wife, Ellen, have devoted themselves to student academic success for many years and have a long history of philanthropic support to NIU.
Honoring the Past
NIU honored its 1963 Huskie National Champion Football team by raising a banner atop a 63-foot permanent flag pole outside Huskie Stadium prior to the Homecoming game versus Western Michigan. Members of the 1963 team, including all-time great and College Football Hall of Famer George Bork, were in attendance for the flag raising ceremony. The flag pole is located just outside the gates at the southwest corner of Huskie Stadium and can be seen clearly from inside the stadium. The 1963 NIU team posted a perfect 10-0-0 record, capped by a victory over Southwest Missouri State in the Mineral Water Bowl, to claim the College Division Championship.
Adding to the Ranks
Two members of the 2010 Northern Illinois team have been added to NFL rosters as of Monday, Oct. 17. Safety Tracy Wilson was signed to the New York Jets practice squad, while tailback Chad Spann has tweeted that he has accompanied the Tampa Bay Bucs to London and will be added to the team's active roster this week. They joined six active Huskies in the NFL. The list is led by All-Pro running back Michael Turner (Atlanta Falcons), 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 after five seasons with Dallas.