NIU Preparing for MAC West Showdown at Toledo

GO HUSKIES Perez Ashford
GO HUSKIES
Perez Ashford
GO HUSKIES

Oct. 27, 2011

Complete Release in PDF Format

2011 NORTHERN ILLINOIS HUSKIES FOOTBALL
Northern Illinois (5-3, 3-1) at Toledo (5-3, 4-0)
Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011 | 6 p.m. (CT) | ESPN2 | ESPN3D
Toledo, Ohio | Glass Bowl | 26,248

HUSKIE FOOTBALL FACTS
2011 Record/MAC Record: 5-3/3-1
2010 Record: 11-3
MAC (Regular Season) Record/Finish: 8-0/1st, West Division
Head Coach: Dave Doeren
Record at NIU & Career Record: 5-3/First Year
Alma Mater/Year: Drake/1994
Basic Offense/Defense: Multiple/4-3
First Year of Football: 1899
All-Time Record: 517-463-51
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
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

ROCKETS' FACTS
2011 Record/MAC Record: 5-3/4-0
2010 Record/MAC Record/Finish: 8-5/7-1/2nd West
Head Coach: Tim Beckman
Alma Mater/Year: Findlay '88
Record at UT/Year: 18-15/3rd
Career Record/Year: 18-15/3rd
Location: Toledo, Ohio
Enrollment: 23,064
Conference: Mid-American
Colors: Midnight Blue & Gold
Stadium: Glass Bowl
Surface/Capacity: FieldTurf/26,248
President: Dr. Lloyd Jacobs
Athletic Director: Mike O'Brien
Ticket Information: 419-530-GOLD
Athletics Website: www.utrockets.com
FB Media Relations Contact: Paul Helgren
Phone: 419-530-4918 (O); 419-262-3861 (C)
E-Mail Address: paul.helgren@utoledo.edu

 

 

2011 UT SCHEDULE

SERIES HISTORY
Overall: Toledo leads 29-9
In Toledo: Toledo leads 18-2
In MAC Games: Toledo leads 19-6
Streak: NIU, 1

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 5-3. 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.

HUSKIE MULTIMEDIA

WATCH Toledo-NIU ON ESPN2 and ESPN3D
The Northern Illinois-Toledo game will air on ESPN2 and marks the first of three consecutive nationally televised games for the Huskies. The game will also be available on ESPN3 through the WatchESPN.com website. In addition, the game can be viewed in HD. Dave Lamont will handle play-by-play duties with Tim Brown on the call 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.

Huskies All-Access
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
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.

NIU'S HARNISH HONORED AS NFF SCHOLAR-ATHLETE
On Oct. 25, NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish was named a recipient of one of 16 National Scholar-Athlete Awards from the National Football Foundation and is also now a finalist for the 2011 William V. Campbell Trophy. 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 will receive an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship and be honored, along with the other 15 NFF Scholar-Athletes, at the 54th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 6, 2011 at the Waldorf=Astoria. 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 already owns seven Northern Illinois career 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). Link to complete release (http://www.niuhuskies.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/102611aaa.html)

NORTHERN ILLINOIS NEWS & NOTES

#Tuesday Night Lights
Northern Illinois opens November with the first of three straight Tuesday night games as the Huskies travel to Toledo for an ESPN2 game versus the Rockets. NIU is playing its second of three road games and looks to extend its season-long three-game winning streak.

#Rockets & Dogs
Despite Northern Illinois' 65-30 victory over Toledo in DeKalb a year ago, the Rockets hold the clear edge in the series as they have won 29 of the 38 meetings between the teams. Tuesday's meeting will be the 21st played in Toledo, where the Huskies have won just twice all-time, with the last NIU win at the Glass Bowl in 2005. UT has dominated the series of late, winning 14 of the last 17 games dating back to 1990. NIU has won just six of the 25 games played as MAC foes.

#Doeren's Debut Season
Northern Illinois Head Coach Dave Doeren is 5-3 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).

#Scoring Spree
A year ago in DeKalb, the Northern Illinois offense tallied 584 yards, including 422 rushing, and NIU took a 28-0 halftime lead en route to a 65-30 win over Toledo on Senior Night. The Huskies posted their seventh straight win behind quarterback Chandler Harnish, who totaled 162 passing and 149 rushing yards in the game. After UT scored the first nine points of the second half, the teams traded touchdowns and NIU led 35-16 with 7:18 to play in the third quarter. The Huskies then scored a pair of touchdowns to put the game away. Northern Illinois scored on long runs by Akeem Daniels (50) and Jasmin Hopkins (55) and got an 83-yard kickoff return TD from Tommy Davis.

#MAC Mark
Northern Illinois is in its 26th season as a member of the Mid-American Conference in 2011. In MAC games, Northern Illinois is 103-90-2 all-time and the Huskies are 68-45 (.602) 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 24-13 (.649) record versus Mid-American Conference foes on the road since 2002, and after last week's win at Buffalo, is 1-1 on the road in league games so far this year. All-time, NIU is 45-52-1 (.464) in road league games; since rejoining the MAC in 1997, the Huskies are 31-26 on the road versus MAC teams.

#NIU-Toledo Tuesdays on ESPN2
Northern Illinois and Toledo will play on a Tuesday night in front of an ESPN2 national television audience for the second straight season, while the 2011 game marks the fifth time in the last eight seasons that this match-up has been played on a weeknight on ESPN2. Four of those five weeknight contests (2004, 2006, 2010, 2011) have come on Tuesdays, with the 2005 game played on Wednesday.

#Recapping Buffalo
Jasmin Hopkins ran for three touchdowns and the Northern Illinois defense forced five turnovers, but it was not until Buffalo kicker Peter Fardon missed an extra point try after the last of three Bulls' fourth quarter touchdowns that NIU secured its first road win of 2011. Chandler Harnish scored on a six-yard touchdown run with 37 seconds to play in the first half to give Northern Illinois a 17-10 lead, and NIU extended its margin to 31-10 on a pair of Hopkins' TD runs in the third quarter. Buffalo stormed back behind quarterback Chazz Anderson, who totaled 460 yards of total offense on 404 passing and 56 rushing yards. Anderson threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to pull the Bulls within one point with 14 seconds left in the game.

#If You're Counting
The Toledo game will be the 1,032nd game in Northern Illinois history and the Huskies will be looking for their 518th victory all-time. NIU has a 517-463-51 all-time record for a winning percentage of .526. Over the past 11 seasons (since 2000), Northern Illinois is 84-59 (.587) with nine winning campaigns to record the best mark of any of the three Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the state of Illinois.

#Back to Ohio
There are three Ohio natives on the Huskie roster, most notably junior receiver Perez Ashford, a product of Shaker Heights who is NIU's leading pass-catcher. Ashford, a junior, has 57 career catches for 645 yards, with 28 grabs for 356 yards in 2011. Running back James Spencer and defensive back Tre' Moore are the other Ohioans on the NIU roster. Moore is a true freshman from Dayton who is redshirting the 2011 campaign, while Fremont product Spencer has earned recognition for his performance on the Huskies' work team.

#Milestones
A pair of Huskie seniors can reach milestone marks versus Toledo. Quarterback Chandler Harnish, who set the NIU school record for yards of total offense in a career as a junior, needs 233 yards to reach 10,000 for his career. Harnish enters the Toledo game with 7,425 passing and 2,342 rushing yards for 9,767 total. He ranks 12th all-time in the MAC in total offense yards. Senior receiver Willie Clark needs 31 receiving yards to reach the 1,000-yard mark for his career.

#Another Level
Huskie junior defensive end Sean Progar has taken his game to another level of late with three quarterback sacks, six tackles for loss, a pass break-up, a forced fumble and 12 tackles in NIU's last three games. Progar, a first team All-MAC defensive end a year ago, leads Northern Illinois and ranks third in the league in sacks with 4.5, while his eight TFLs are tied for the NIU team lead. Progar made his 100th career tackle last week at Buffalo and has 26 career tackles for loss. His 14.5 sacks already rank eighth on the NIU career list.

#Up Front
NIU featured one of the most experienced offensive lines in the country entering the season with redshirt seniors Trevor Olson (LT), Scott Wedige (C), Joe Pawlak (RG) and Keith Otis (RT) and redshirt junior Logan Pegram (LG) all returning 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 seventh in the country in fewest sacks allowed. Northern Illinois has given up one sack or less in seven of the team's eight games so far this year and has not allowed a sack in its last three games. The five veterans up front have made 145 combined starts, led by Olson's 48 (every game of his NIU career) and Pawlak's 35. Otis and Wedige have 22 starts each; Pegram has started 18 contests.

#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 versus Western Michigan. The Huskies have scored 40 or more points in six of eight games 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 38.5 points per game, above last year's average of 38.0 points per game, which stands as the school record.

#Turnover Tale
Turnovers played a huge role in Northern Illinois' latest win as the Huskies won the turnover battle versus Buffalo by a 5-0 margin en route to their 31-30 win in New York. NIU recovered three fumbles, including two on muffed punts, and picked off a pair of passes with redshirt freshman Dechane Durante making his first career interception and Rashaan Melvin getting his team-leading second pick-off of the year. On the other hand, the Northern Illinois offense has been turnover-free in four games this year.

#Record Breaker
Quarterback Chandler Harnish now owns seven Huskie career passing and total offense records after adding the record for pass completions to his list versus Buffalo. In 41 career games, Harnish has completed 585-of-941 passes for 7,425 yards (all records) with five 300-yard passing games, including two this season. He has accounted for 9,767 yards of total offense and 73 touchdowns (rushing and passing) in 1,379 plays - also school records. Many of the marks - including those for passing yards and completions, as well as 300-yard games and TDs responsible for - were set by College Football Hall of Famer George Bork from 1960-63. Harnish needs nine touchdown passes to claim that Huskie career record.

#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.

#Great Game
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 2,342 yards on 438 carries. Harnish joined Stacey Robinson (2,727 yards on 428 carries from 1988-90) as one of only two quarterbacks in NIU's 2,000-yard club. He needs 91 yards to move into the Top 10. Harnish also has 21 career rushing scores, with a career-high eight in 2011, to rank 10th all-time in that category. He has led NIU in rushing in four games this season and currently ranks fourth in the MAC, and 39th in the country, in rushing yards per game.

#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.

#Starting Strong
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.

#In the Zone
NIU is ranked third in the MAC in red zone offense with 40 scores in 44 trips inside the opponents' 20-yard line, including a perfect 4-for-4 day at Buffalo. The Huskies have scored 29 touchdowns and 11 field goals from inside the 20 for a 90.9 percent rate. Northern Illinois has been in the red zone seven more times than any other school in the league and have nine scores more than any other school. NIU's 29 TDs is six more than the No. 2 team. The Huskies are tied for 13th in the country in red zone offense.

#Touchdown Time
Senior tailback Jasmin Hopkins has scored six rushing touchdown in the past two weeks with three scores versus both Western Michigan and Buffalo to take the team lead in TDs. Hopkins now has 12 scores in Northern Illinois' eight games, including 11 rushing and one passing touchdown. He has scored at least one touchdown in six games and has four multiple touchdown games. With 12 TDs in 121 touches (rushes and catches), Hopkins scores approximately once every 10 times he touches the ball.

#Three-Headed Monster
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 80 of Northern Illinois' 144 completions for 1,000 yards and six touchdowns. Ashford leads the way in catches and yards with 28 grabs for 356 yards, followed closely by Palmer (27-329) and Moore (25-315). Texan Moore's four touchdown passes lead NIU. Indiana native Palmer has caught at least one pass in every game this season, and Ashford has at least one catch in seven straight games. Palmer has the top catch day of the year with nine versus Kansas while Moore totaled 130 receiving yards at Central Michigan.

#Middle Man
Back in his middle linebacker position for the first time since 2009, senior Pat Schiller leads the Huskie defense and ranks tied for sixth in the MAC in tackles. Schiller has 69 tackles on the year, already his second best single season total, with 30 solo stops and 39 assists. He has already recorded a career-high eight tackles for loss on the season and has 194 career tackles. Schiller led NIU in tackles versus Buffalo with 11. Against Western Michigan, he made a team-leading 10 tackles, tallied his second quarterback sack and broke up a pair of passes.

#Super Sophomore
After making a name for himself as a true freshman as a special teams star with three blocked punts, defensive back Jimmie Ward has become an every down player in the Huskies' defensive backfield in 2011. Ward ranks second on the team in tackles with 59 and his 31 solo stops are second on the squad. He made a career high and team leading 11 stops versus Wisconsin after registering 10 tackles 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.

#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 31 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.

#Good Day for the Defense
Northern Illinois held Kent State to 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. The Flashes' one rushing yard on 38 carries was 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 are the fewest since Eastern Michigan tallied just 11 yards through the air 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.

#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 to record the first score of 2011 for the Huskie defense. Northern Illinois picked off a season-best two passes versus both WMU and Buffalo with safeties Demetrius Stone (WMU) and Dechane Durante (UB) and linebacker Michael Santacaterina (WMU) recording their first career INTs. NIU's interceptions have been by a linebacker (1), defensive linemen (2), defensive backs (4).

#Field Goal Frenzy
After making 12 field goals over the past four weeks, sophomore kicker Mathew Sims has 14 three-pointers on the season and is ranked seventh in the country in field goals with 1.75 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." His 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.

#Their Town
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.

#First-Timers
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 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, who blocked a punt versus Cal Poly, 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
NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish was selected one of 30 candidates for the 2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for football. The award honors seniors who have achieved in the community, classroom, character and competition. Harnish 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.

#So Long Saturdays
The Buffalo game marked 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.

#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.

#Lofty Ranking
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.

#Great Gift
During Soldier Field Showdown II in Chicago, Northern Illinois announced that Dr. Kenneth and Ellen Chessick 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 8). 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.

#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.

#Adding to the Ranks
Two members of the 2010 Northern Illinois team have been added to NFL rosters as of Monday, Oct. 17, giving the Huskies eight alumni on National Football League rosters. Safety Tracy Wilson was signed to the New York Jets practice squad, while tailback Chad Spann joined the Tampa Bay Bucs' practice unit. NIU's NFL 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, was placed on injured reserve by the Chargers this week. Wide receiver Sam Hurd is in his first year with the Chicago Bears after five seasons with Dallas.

#Conversions Are Key
Offensively, Northern Illinois ranks 10th in the nation and leads the MAC in third-down conversion percentage with a 50.9 mark (58-of-114). NIU converted 11 of 13 third-down attempts in the Army game, including an 11-for-11 mark through three quarters behind Chandler Harnish. The Huskies were nine-of-12 on third down versus Cal Poly and converted eight times in 15 tries versus Kent State.

#Neir Punts Far
Huskie punter Ryan Neir enjoyed the best day of his career with eight punts for a 41.4 yard average at Buffalo. Three of Neir's punts were muffed by the Bulls, and the Huskies recovered two of the muffs. Neir dropped two punts inside the 20-yard line, including his final punt, a 42-yard boot fair caught at the Buffalo 12-yard line. Neir also had a long punt of 52 yards, tying his season and career best. Six of Neir's eight punts went for 40 yards or longer and none of his punts were returned. In his first season as the Huskies' starting punter, Neir has punted 28 times for a 36.9 yard average.