Huskies Chase History, Championship in Detroit

GO HUSKIES Chris Smith and the Huskies are gearing up for the MAC Conference Championship.
Chris Smith and the Huskies are gearing up for the MAC Conference Championship.

Nov. 30, 2010

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2010 Marathon Mid-American Conference Championship Game
#24 AP/#23 USA Today/Coaches NIU (10-2, 8-0) vs. Miami (Ohio) (8-4, 7-1)
Dec. 3, 2010 | 6 p.m. (CT) | ESPN2
Detroit, Mich. | Ford Field | 65,000

2010 Record/MAC Record: 10-2/8-0
2009 Record: 7-6
2009 MAC Record/Finish: 5-3/2nd, West Division
Head Coach: Jerry Kill
Alma Mater/Year: Southwestern (KS)/1983
Record at NIU/Years: 23-15/3rd
Career Record/Years: 127-72/17th
Basic Offense/Defense: Multiple/4-3
First Year of Football: 1899
All-Time Record: 511-459-51
Last Bowl Game: 2010 International Bowl (Toronto): USF 27, NIU 3
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 49/23
Starters Returning: 19 (6 Off., 11 Def., 2 Spec.)
Starters Lost: 7 (4 Off., 2 Def., 1 Spec.)

Location: DeKalb, Illinois
Founded: 1895
Enrollment: 24,397
Affiliation: NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision
Conference: Mid-American (West Division)
Colors: Cardinal and Black
Nickname: Huskies
Stadium: Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium
Surface/Capacity: Field Turf /24,000
President (Alma Mater, Year): Dr. John Peters (John Carroll '67)
Assoc. VP/Athletic Director: Jeff Compher
Alma Mater: James Madison '80
Ticket Information: 815-752-6800
Athletics Website:


2010 Record/Conference Record: 8-4/7-1
2009 Record/Conference Record/Finish: 1-11/1-7 6th West
Head Coach: Michael Haywood
Alma Mater/Year: Notre Dame '86
Record at MU/Year: 9-15/2nd
Career Record/Year: 9-15/2nd
Location: Oxford, Ohio
Enrollment: 16,300
Conference: Mid-American
Colors: Red & White
Stadium: Yager Stadium
Surface/Capacity: FieldTurf/24,286
President: Dr. David C. Hodge
Athletic Director: Brad Bates
Ticket Information: 513-529-4295
Athletics Website:
FB Media Relations Contact: Mike Pearson
Phone: 513-529-4329 (O); 513-330-2068 (C)
E-Mail Address: ( )


Overall : Series Tied 7-7
In Oxford: Series Tied 4-4
In DeKalb: Series Tied 3-3
In MAC Games: NIU Leads 7-5
Streak: NIU, 5
Kill vs. Miami: 2-0


Jerry Kill is in his third season at Northern Illinois and his 17th season as a collegiate head coach. The Kansas native will become the first coach in NIU history to lead his team to three straight bowl games and is just the second coach to take NIU to the MAC title game. With this season's victory over Minnesota, Kill's NIU teams have two wins over Big Ten teams, and he owns a 23-15 overall won-loss record at Northern Illinois. Kill's 127-72-0 career record as a head coach is good for a winning percentage of .638. Prior to NIU, he spent 14 years as head coach of programs at Saginaw Valley State (1994-98), Emporia State (1999-2000) and Southern Illinois (2001-07).

In his first stint as a collegiate head coach at Saginaw Valley State (Mich.) from 1994-98, Kill's teams posted five consecutive winning seasons, a 38-14 overall record and were nationally-ranked in each of his final two years. After two seasons at Emporia State (Kans.), he moved on to Southern Illinois, where he led the Salukis to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs five times, including a trip to the FCS semifinals in 2007.

Southern Illinois went 55-32 in seven seasons under Kill. He was named the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year in 2004 following a 10-2 campaign, and won the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award in 2007 while leading SIU to a 12-2 record. Southern Illinois spent 64 straight weeks in the Top 20 between 2003 and 2007 and was ranked in the Top 10 for 12 consecutive weeks in 2007.

Kill began his collegiate coaching career at Kansas powerhouse Pittsburg State, beginning in 1985 with three seasons as the defensive coordinator. After spending the 1988 and '89 campaigns as the head coach at Webb City High School where the team won the 1989 state championship, he returned to PSU as offensive coordinator for the then NCAA Division II team. He picked up another championship as the Gorillas won the national title in 1991 with a 13-1-1 record.

The Northern Illinois football program has achieved academically under Kill. In his two seasons at NIU, 50 football student-athletes have earned their degrees and the football team's most recent Academic Progress Rate of 975 ranks the Huskies 10th in the country in eligibility, retention and graduation of student-athletes.


WATCH the MAC Championship on ESPN2
The Marathon MAC Championship game will be televised on ESPN2 beginning at 7 p.m. (ET)/6 p.m. (CT). Joe Tessitore and Rod Gilmore will handle the call of the game.

The MAC Championship on Radio
On radio, fans can listen to the Northern Illinois-Eastern Michigan game on the Huskies' flagship station, WLBK AM 1360 in DeKalb, in Chicago on WSCR AM 670 The Score as well as on WTJK ESPN1380 AM in Janesville, Wis. which covers the Rockford, Ill. market. The NIU-ISP Radio Network broadcast kicks off with the pregame show at 5:30 p.m. (CT). Hall of Fame broadcaster Bill Baker is completing his 31st season as the play-by-play voice of the Huskies and is joined by Mark Lindo, in his 26th year as NIU's color analyst. Casey Kahler is the sideline reporter for the championship game.

"Inside Huskie Football" Radio Show
NIU Head Coach Jerry Kill joins host Bill Baker for the MAC Championship version of "Inside Huskie Football" from 7-8 p.m. Tuesday at Fatty's Pub & Grille on Lincoln Highway in DeKalb. Hear the show on WLBK 1360 AM DeKalb and on NIU-ISP Radio Network affiliate ?ESPN 1380AM in Janesville, Wis.

"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 update with football coach Jerry Kill as well as interviews with other Huskie coaches and all the latest NIU Athletics news. This week's show will air on Thursday, Dec. 2 from 12-12:30 a.m.

Huskie All-Access
Fans across the country can hear all NIU live radio broadcasts, including football games and "Inside Huskie Football," live on Huskie All-Access at 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 men's and women's basketball, volleyball and men's and women's soccer games. Subscribers also have access to Coach Kill's weekly press conferences and special video features and all games and shows are archived for viewing or listening anytime.
Get all of the latest NIU Athletics news and information, statistics, press releases and more online every day at, the official athletics website for Northern Illinois University.

Key Links


Title Game
Northern Illinois makes its second appearance all-time in the Mid-American Conference title game and attempts to win its second MAC Championship ever when the Huskies, winners of nine straight games and ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since 2004, meet Miami (Ohio) in the 2010 Marathon MAC Championship game. The game kicks off at 7 p.m. (ET)/6 p.m. (CT) from Ford Field in Detroit.

Nine in a Row
Northern Illinois enters the MAC Championship game riding a nine-game winning streak, the school's longest as an NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) program. The 2010 Huskies have not lost since Sept. 18 when they dropped a 28-22 decision to Illinois in Champaign, reeling off wins over Minnesota, Akron, Temple, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Toledo, Ball State and Eastern Michigan. The Huskies' nine-game winning streak ties Coach Howard Fletcher's 1965 squad which posted an undefeated 9-0 regular season before losing to North Dakota in the Mineral Water Bowl. That streak actually reached 11 games as NIU won its final two games in 1964 in addition to the perfect 1965 regular season. Northern Illinois started play in what is now Division I FBS football in 1969.

Back in the MAC (Championship)
With the win over Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois claimed sole possession of the Mid-American Conference West Division title after clinching a berth in the MAC Championship game a week earlier. NIU made its only previous appearance in the MAC title game (which has only been played since 2004) in 2005 when the Huskies lost to Akron, 31-30, on a last-second bomb. The Huskies earned a share of the West Division crown in 2001, 2002 and 2004 before winning the division outright in 2005.

Chasing a Championship
NIU won its only other Mid-American Conference football championship in 1983 under head coach Bill Mallory, who also had great success as Miami's head coach. That team finished the season 10-2 after defeating Cal State Fullerton in the 1983 California Bowl. Northern Illinois posted an 8-1 season versus MAC competition in 1983 and won the league title on Nov. 12 with a 26-14 win over Toledo in DeKalb.

The Coach's Credentials
Third-year head coach Jerry Kill is already the only Northern Illinois coach to lead the Huskies to back-to-back bowl games in the "major college" era with trips to the Independence Bowl in 2008 and the International Bowl last season. He will become the first coach in school history to take the Huskies to three straight bowls and he is the only NIU coach all-time with two wins over Big Ten Conference opponents. Kill has posted a 23-15 record at NIU, highlighted by the bowl trips, wins over Purdue (28-21) in 2009 and Minnesota (34-23) and the Huskies' current nine-game winning streak.

After earning its ninth consecutive win and 10th victory of 2010, Northern Illinois entered both the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches Top 25 rankings this week. Northern Illinois checked in at No. 24 in the Associated Press poll and is 23rd in the USA Today/Coaches list. The Huskies are ranked by the coaches for the first time since Nov. 7, 2004 when NIU spent two weeks in that ranking. The last time the Huskies were ranked in the AP Poll was Nov. 9, 2003 when NIU was 9-1. Northern Illinios was ranked as high as No. 12 that season after starting 7-0 with wins over Maryland, Alabama and Iowa State. The Huskies also achieved a BCS rating of No. 10 in 2003.

Postseason Play History
With the MAC Championship game and a bowl game still to be played, Northern Illinois will play in the postseason for the fifth time in the last six seasons. For the first time in school history, NIU will extend its season by two games as in 2010, both participants in the MAC Championship game are guaranteed a bowl berth (unlike in 2005). The Huskies are bowl eligible for the third straight season and have won at least six games 10 times in the past 11 years dating back to 2000.

From 2-10 to 10-2
In earning their 10th win of 2010, the Huskies completed a remarkable turnaround from the injury-ravaged team that won just two of 12 games in 2007 to the 10-win and Top 25 ranked Huskies of today. There are 27 players on the current roster who were on that 2007 team. In winning 10 games, the 2010 Huskies matched the 10-win regular season posted by the 2003 NIU team, although that squad did not receive a bowl invite. Northern Illinois' only other 10-win teams were the 1983 MAC Champions (10-2) and 1963 NCAA College Division Champion squads (10-0).

Northern Illinois completed the first perfect (8-0) Mid-American Conference campaign in school history with its win at Eastern Michigan. In 25 seasons in the MAC, Northern Illinois had never gone undefeated in league play, including in the 1983 championship season when the Huskies were 8-1 versus MAC competition with a loss to Central Michigan.

The Northern Illinois-Miami series is knotted at seven wins apiece. The teams will meet for the 15th time since 1970 and for the eighth time since NIU rejoined the MAC in 1997 in Detroit. The Huskies have defeated the RedHawks in five straight games dating back to 1998, including a 27-22 win in Oxford a year ago. NIU has won each of the last three games (in 2006, 2008, 2009) by five points or less.

The Last Meeting
Last season in Oxford, the Huskies ran for 202 yards on 39 carries as Chad Spann scored on runs of 42 and 40 yards and Northern Illinois claimed a 27-22 victory over the RedHawks at Yager Stadium. The NIU defense held MU to minus 11 yards rushing in the game on the strength of eight quarterback sacks, while the Huskie special teams got a 44-yard punt return TD from Perez Ashford and two blocked kicks. The Huskies jumped out to a 17-0 first-quarter lead before the RedHawks responded with a touchdown before halftime. After a scoreless third quarter, the teams traded field goals. Miami scored a pair of touchdowns in the final two minutes of the game but it was not enough to overcome Spann's 156 rushing yards on 21 carries and the Huskies' early lead.

MAC Mark
Northern Illinois completed its 25th regular season as a member of the Mid-American Conference in 2010 by earning its 100th win as a MAC team last Friday at Eastern Michigan. In MAC games, Northern Illinois is 100-89-2. Since rejoining the MAC in 1997, NIU is 65-44 (.596) versus league opponents and in three seasons under Jerry Kill, the Huskies are 18-6 in Mid-American Conference games. The Huskies are in the 14th season of their second stint in the MAC after originally playing in the league from 1975-85.

Away from Home
Traveling to Detroit for the MAC Championship game will be more of the same for the 2010 Huskies. After playing four of their first five games of the season on the road, NIU finished the year by playing four of its last five games away from home, including the final two regular season contests and this game in Detroit. Under Jerry Kill, Northern Illinois is 9-10 in road games since 2008, with seven of the 10 losses by nine points or less, including decisions at Illinois (a 28-22 loss on Sept. 18), at Minnesota and Tennessee (both in 2008) and at Wisconsin (in 2009).

Happy at Home
Northern Illinois completed a perfect 5-0 home record with its win over Toledo on November 9 and the Huskies have won nine straight games at Huskie Stadium dating back to the 2009 loss to Idaho on Sept. 26. NIU also has won eight straight MAC games in DeKalb dating back to the Huskies' last league game of 2008. Under Jerry Kill, Northern Illinois is 14-3 on Brigham Field.

At Home in a Dome
With its appearance in Ford Field, Northern Illinois will play an indoor game for the fourth straight season and for the fifth time in the last six years. A year ago, the Huskies' played in the enclosed Rogers Centre, a retractable roof stadium, in Toronto and NIU opened the 2008 campaign versus Minnesota in the Metrodome. the Huskies took on Idaho in its Kibbie Dome in 2007 and of course, played on this same field in 2005.

Senior CLASS Finalist
Huskie senior defensive end Jake Coffman is one of 10 finalists for the 2010 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award with the last full week of fan voting currently ongoing. , The fan vote accounts for one-third of the final total and individuals can vote once per day (per computer) at Coffman's story, his commitment to the NIU football program and to his country - as evidenced by his time in the Marine Corps - and to the community, through volunteer efforts, makes him an ideal candidate for the award, which honors seniors who have achieved in community, classroom, character and competition. Coffman, the Touchdown Club of Columbus' 2009 Male Athlete of the Year, leads the team with 10 tackles for loss and 4.5 quarterback sacks. He recorded his first interception of the season and second of his career against Western Michigan.

Never Before
The 2010 Northern Illinois team is bidding to become the first team in school history to win 11 games in a single season. The win over Eastern Michigan matched the 10-win seasons posted by the 2003, 1983 and 1963 Huskie teams.

Ten-Win Teams
Northern Illinois is one of only 18 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country that has won 10 games in the regular season in 2010. Of that group, NIU is the ONLY school to have played only five home games this season. The Huskies are one of six teams from a non-automatic qualifying conference to win 10 games prior to playing in a championship game, joining Boise State, Nevada, TCU and Utah.

The Marathon MAC Championship game will be the 1,022nd game in Northern Illinois history and the Huskies will be looking for their 512th victory all-time. NIU played its 1,000th game and won its 500th, last season and has a 511-459-51 all-time record for a winning percentage of .525. From 2000 to 2009, Northern Illinois posted a 68-53 record (.562) with eight winning campaigns, the best mark among any of the three NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams in Illinois.

Nightmare Finish
Northern Illinois' last trip to the MAC Championship resulted in a finish that most NIU fans would rather forget as Akron broke the Huskies' hearts to claim the 2005 title. With NIU leading 30-24 and Akron facing second and 10 at the NIU 36-yard line with 17 seconds on the clock, Zips QB Luke Getsy hit Domenik Hixon for the touchdown and the PAT gave Akron the MAC title. The Huskies had led 24-10 at the start of the fourth quarter but gave up three touchdowns in the final period while scoring only two field goals. Getsy completed 30-of-50 passes for 413 yards with only the one touchdown pass in the game; NIU's Garrett Wolfe rushed for 270 yards on 42 carries in the game.

Historic Coaching Connection
Northern Illinois and Miami share a connection through two of the schools' legendary coaches - NIU's Joe Novak and Bill Mallory, who led the programs at not only Northern Illinois and Miami, but also Colorado and Indiana. Mallory, who served as head coach at Miami from 1969-73, led the Huskies from 1980-83, and is the only previous NIU coach to win a MAC Championship (1983). He also won the 1973 title at Miami and is the only coach in league history to win MAC Championships with two different schools. Mallory's effect on the NIU program is still felt today as his former defensive coordinator at NIU, a Miami grad named Joe Novak, took over a downtrodden Huskie program in 1996. After a 3-30 start in his first three seasons that included a 23-game losing streak, Novak took the program to unprecedented heights, including its first national rankings. Novak was an integral part of the coaching search which brought his successor, Jerry Kill, to NIU in 2008 and remains in close contact with Kill to this day. Novak will attend Friday's game.

Across the Line
Northern Illinois offensive tackle Keith Otis will see a familiar face staring at him across the line of scrimmage on Friday as Miami starting defensive tackle Jordain Brown was a high school teammate of Otis' at Chicago's Hubbard High School. Both are redshirt juniors who helped lead Hubbard to the 2006 city championship. In fact, Otis and Brown have remained in touch, and their parents were even planning on driving to the MAC Championship game together from Chicago.

Another Week, Another Win, Another Honor
For the 10th straight week, a Northern Illinois player was honored by the Mid-American Conference with one of the league's MAC West Player of the Week Awards. Senior defensive end Jake Coffman earned the accolade for the second time this season after contributing five solo tackles, two tackles for loss, a quarterback sack and a forced fumble in the Huskies' defensive effort at Eastern Michigan. Coffman and his mates held EMU to just 11 passing yards and 160 yards of total offense. Coffman also won the defensive POTW after the Western Michigan game.

Players of the Week
Seven different Northern Illinois players earned the MAC Player of the Week honors 11 times this year. Jake Coffman was a two-time Defensive Player of the Week (versus EMU, WMU) while quarterback Chandler Harnish was named Offensive Player of the Week three times (vs. Akron, Temple, Toledo) and true freshman Jimmie Ward earned two of the Huskies' four Specialist of the Week honors (vs. Minnesota, Buffalo). Linebacker Tyrone Clark was the other NIU defender honroed (vs. Central Michigan) and Chad Spann was the Offensive Player of the Week after his 223-yard rushing day at Minnesota. Linebacker Jordan Delegal (vs. Ball State)and punter Josh Wilber (vs. Illinois) were one-time Specialist of the Week honorees as NIU players earned that recognition four times.

In its last three games, Northern Illinois has posted three of the top 12 point totals in school history and has averaged 65 points per game. NIU's 71 points versus Eastern Michigan is the most scored by the Huskies since a 73-10 win over Buffalo on Oct. 28, 2000 and is the fifth-highest scoring game in school history. That makes the 65-point total versus Toledo on Nov. 9 the sixth-most scored by the Huskies all-time, while the 59-point outburst at Ball State tied for the 11th-highest in school history. The last time NIU recorded even two of its highest scoring games in one SEASON was in 1921 with 91 points versus Elmhurst (Nov. 5) and 64 versus Mount Morris (Oct. 22).

Points Record Obliterated
With 195 points in its last three games alone, Northern Illinois did not just break its all-time record for points scored in a season, it obliterated the old mark by a 50-point margin. The Huskies have now scored 471 points on the year, 50 points above the old record total of 421 points in 2004. NIU is averaging 39.2 points per game which would break the single season record for highest average points scored per game of 37.2 in 2000.

"Big" Win
The Huskies' 71-3 win over Eastern Michigan will go down in the NIU record books as the biggest win in NIU's history as a Division I FBS program in terms of margin of victory. The 68-point win is the Huskies' most dominant MAC win ever and is the largest win, in terms of point differential, since 1921 when NIU defeated Elmhurst 91-10. The Huskies also tied the school's "modern" record for touchdowns in a game with 10.

In a Rush
Leading 37-3 at halftime versus Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois pulled starting quarterback Chandler Harnish and tailback Chad Spann, and the Huskies threw just one pass in the second half while playing every available player on its 65-man travel roster. Still, Northern Illinois ran for 544 yards to record the second-most single game rushing yards in school history behind only a 733-yard outburst in a 73-18 win over Fresno State on Oct. 6, 1990. The Huskies' 646 yards of total offense tied for the fourth-most in school history and the most since NIU gained 646 yards versus Buffalo on Oct. 28, 2000.

Run, Run as Fast as You Can
Northern Illinois' offensive outburst at Eastern Michigan included five touchdown runs of 61 yards or longer by four different players, eight total touchdown runs by five players, five players who gained at least 50 rushing yards and eight who had 20 yards or more. Chad Spann (71), Jordan Lynch (81, 61), DeMarcus Grady (61) and Jasmin Hopkins (74) recorded the long runs, with Lynch's 81-yard effort tying for the ninth-longest run in school history. NIU had five one-play drives and two two-play drives in the game.

No Passing Zone
In addition to the Huskies' offensive prowess at Eastern Michigan, the NIU defense was dominant. Jerry Kill said the Huskies played "as fast as they had played all year" and NIU completely shut down the EMU passing game, allowing only four completions (on nine attempts) for 11 yards. It was the fewest passing yards allowed by a Huskie defense since Oct. 23, 1971 when Ball State passed for just 11 yards (on two completions) in a game that ended in a 10-10 tie. Northern Illinois also held the Eagles to 160 total yards, the lowest for a Huskie opponent since Indiana State had 154 yards in 2008.

Rushing Rankings
As a team, Northern Illinois has rushed for 3,350 yards on 521 carries with 38 touchdowns in 2010 as the Huskies rank seventh in the country in rushing offense with an average of 279.17 yards per game. In addition, NIU's per carry average of 6.43 leads the nation and would break the Huskies' current record of 6.13 if it stands through the next two games. The total yardage number ranks as the fourth-best in school history, and the most since 1990, while the rushing touchdowns are the most NIU has scored on the ground since 1989 (40). Northern Illinois' per game rushing average is 105.9 yards more per game than the MAC's No. 2 rushing team, Eastern Michigan.

Exception to the Rule
In three seasons under Jerry Kill, the Huskies are a perfect 21-0 when they rush for 200 or more yards in a game, including a 9-0 mark in 2010. The only exception to that rule has occurred in two games against Ball State as Northern Illinois has won each of those contests despite rushing for less than 200 yards. Overall, NIU is 2-15 over the last three years when it does not gain 200 yards on the ground.

Seniors Saluted
Northern Illinois' 2010 senior class includes 10 defenders, eight offensive players and three specialists. Fifteen of NIU's 21 seniors are from Illinois (10) and the neighboring states of Indiana (2), Missouri (2) and Wisconsin (1) with the other eight from points east (Washington, D.C.), west (California and Arizona) and south (Florida). NIU boasts 13 senior starters in 2010 (three on offense, seven on defense and three specialists). The Huskies' 21 seniors have combined to make 273 career starts.

Fearless Freshmen
When the all-freshman duo of quarterback Jordan Lynch and wide out Akeem Daniels take the field in NIU's version of the popular "Wildcat" package, opponents had better not take a break. All Daniels - the younger brother of senior cornerback Kiaree Daniels - has done is score three touchdowns on 10 touches (eight rushes and two catches), including a 50-yard score versus Toledo. Lynch has touchdown runs of 90, 81 and 61 yards and a 12.9-yard rushing average (336 yards on 22 carries) as he now ranks third on the Huskie team in rushing. Lynch recorded his first career 100-yard rushing game at EMU with a team-best 142 yards on only two carries. His 90-yard score versus Buffalo stands as the fourth-longest in school history, the longest ever by an NIU quarterback and the longest since LeShon Johnson had a 92-yard carry versus Southern Illinois (10-2-1993). Lynch also threw his first career touchdown pass - a two-yard toss to Kyle Skarb - at Ball State.

Turnover Talk
Northern Illinois has won or tied the turnover battle in 11 of its 12 games so far in 2010 and is 10-1 in those games. NIU did not commit a turnover in the Eastern Michigan, Toledo, Central Michigan or Minnesota games. Meanwhile, the Huskies caused a season-high five turnovers in the win over Central Michigan and have forced at least two turnovers in eight games this season. The Huskies are a perfect 8-0 in the games when it has won the turnover battle (versus North Dakota, Minnesota, Akron, CMU, WMU, Toledo, Ball State, EMU ) and is 2-1 in the three games when the turnovers were even, with wins over Temple and Buffalo and a loss to Iowa State.

Successful Conversions
The Huskies continue to enjoy success on third down and rank seventh in the country in third down conversion percentage with a 51.66 mark. Northern Illinois has not finished a season with a third down conversion percentage over 50 percent since at least 1988 with the top mark since that time in 1989 (49.7 percent). In the last 10 seasons, Northern Illinois' best third down conversion percentage was 43.3 in 2008; the Huskies nearly matched that mark last year with a 43.2 mark. NIU has converted 50 percent or more of its third down tries in eight of 12 games, topped by a 71.4 conversion percentage (10-of-14) versus Akron. Northern Illinois posted a third-down conversion percentage of 66.7 percent versus WMU and Toledo.

The Spann-Zone
NIU senior tailback Chad Spann extended his touchdown scoring streak to a school record 10 games with a pair of TDs at Eastern Michigan while also breaking the Northern Illinois record for rushing touchdowns in a season. Spann has scored eight rushing touchdowns in the Huskies' last three games and has 21 on the year to break the record of 20 that he co-owned (from his 2009 season) along with Michael Turner and Garrett Wolfe. Spann leads the MAC and ranks seventh in the country in scoring. His 20 rushing scores this year are tied for third all-time in the MAC in a single season. He has at least one rushing touchdown in 17 of NIU's last 19 games dating back to last year's Miami game (Oct. 24). With 47 rushing touchdowns, he passed Michael Turner to take over second place on the Huskies' career list behind Wolfe's 52, and he ranks tied for fifth on the MAC charts for rushing TDs (with CMU's Dan LeFevour).

Watching C-Spann
Chad Spann remains atop the MAC rushing list and his 103.2 yards per game average ranks 17th in the country. Spann's 2,767 career rushing yards rank eighth all-time at NIU. He tallied a career-best 223 yards on 15 carries at Minnesota (Sept. 25) with runs of 61, 56 and 33 yards to win Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week honors. He averaged 14.9 yards per carry in the game. Spann's other 100-yard games this year have come versus North Dakota (140), Temple (100), Buffalo (111), Central Michigan (101) and Western Michigan (146).

Thousand-Yard Huskies
With 146 yards at Western Michigan, Chad Spann hit the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season and became Northern Illinois' first back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher since Garrett Wolfe in 2005 and 2006. Spann has 1,239 yards on 226 carries this year, his career highs in both categories. Northern Illinois has now had a 1,000-yard rusher in 11 of the last 12 years dating back to 1999; Spann's 1,000-yard season is the 23rd in Huskie football history.

The Block Goes On
Northern Illinois has set school records for punts blocked in a game (three versus Ball State) and in a season (six) in 2010 and have blocked a total of 12 punts in three years under Jerry Kill. Versus Ball State, linebacker Jordan Delegal blocked a pair of punts, the first of which was returned by Jimmie Ward for a NIU touchdown. Ricky Crider earned the other punt block at Ball State. Ward owns the other three blocks by the Huskies in 2010 (see note below). The Huskies had five blocked punts in 2008 and one last year.

A-Ward Winning
True freshman Jimmie Ward has had a huge impact on the 2010 season in his role on the Huskie punt block/punt return team. Ward has blocked a school-record three punts this year (versus Central Michigan, Minnesota and Buffalo), picking up two MAC Specialist of the Week honors along the way. Against Ball State, Ward scored the first touchdown of his Northern Illinois career as he recovered Jordan Delegal's blocked punt and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown to give NIU a 14-0 lead. The Mobile, Ala. native is the first NIU true freshman to earn two MAC Player of the Week honors in the same season since 2004 when kicker Chris Nendick was a two-time honoree.

Totally Offensive
In 11 games as the Huskies' starting quarterback, junior Chandler Harnish has rushed for 761 yards on 119 carries with five touchdowns and passed for 1,949 yards on 157-of-238 passing with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. Harnish's 2,710 yards of total offense ranks second on the Northern Illinois charts for a single season, trailing only NIU all-time great George Bork, who owns the record with 2,945 yards in 1963. Harnish's 17 touchdown passes are eighth on the NIU single season charts, just one spot out of a tie for fifth.

The Definition of Efficiency
Junior Chandler Harnish leads the Mid-American Conference and ranks 18th in the country in passing efficiency with a rating of 154.12. He has thrown a career-high 17 touchdowns and his 66 percent (157-of-238) completion percentage is the highest of his career. In fact, Harnish's numbers are the best in all categories, while his five INTs are a career low for a season.

Moving On Up
In his third season as the Huskies' starting QB, junior Chandler Harnish continues to climb the NIU career charts. Harnish's 5,147 career passing yards rank fourth on the Northern Illinois charts as do his 423 completions. His career completion percentage (.622) is third. Harnish's 36 touchdown passes and 47 touchdowns reponsible for all-time put him tied for fifth, and tied for sixth, respectively, on the Huskie lists. The Indiana native ranks second all-time at NIU in total offense with 6,676 yards as he passed College Football Hall of Famer George Bork on the list and now needs only 103 yards to become the Northern Illinois all-time leader.

Harnish Racing
Chandler Harnish has rushed for a career-high 761 yards on 119 carries for a 6.4-yard average in 2010 and ranks sixth in the MAC in rushing. He had a career-long 69-yard run versus Toledo and has scored on runs of 37 and 40 yards. Harnish has five career 100-yard rushing games, with three this season. He rushed for a career-high 178 yards against North Dakota. With 117 yards on 11 carries at Illinois, Harnish passed the 1,000-yard mark in career rushing; he now has 1,529 yards on 326 attempts to rank 25th on NIU's all-time list. He is the third Huskie quarterback to gain 1,000 rushing yards, joining Stacey Robinson (2,727 yards) and Marshall Taylor (1,971).

QB Times Three
Following his 149-yard rushing and 162-yard passing day versus Toledo, Chandler Harnish earned the MAC West Offensive Player of the Week Award for the third time this season. Harnish is the first QUARTERBACK in Northern Illinois history to win the honor three times in one season. Harnish also picked up back-to-back MAC West weekly honors following the Akron (10-2) and Temple (10-9) games earlier this season. Versus Toledo, Harnish totaled 311 yards of total offense and recorded a career-long 69-yard rush.

Interception Artist
NIU sophomore linebacker Tyrone Clark picked off his team-leading fourth pass of the season at Ball State and it was his prettiest pick to date, a one-handed grab that he returned 16 yards for his first career touchdown. Clark has four interceptions in 2010, the most by a Huskie in a season since Lionel Hickenbottom picked off five passes in 2004. In addition to the INT versus Ball State, Clark had two interceptions in the Central Michigan game and one against Iowa State.

Pickoff Party
The Northern Illinois defense picked off at least one pass in 10 of the team's 12 games this year. NIU ranks tied for 18th in the country in interceptions with 16. This season's total is the most by an NIU defense since 2003, when the Huskies intercepted 23 passes over 12 games. In addition to Clark, Chris Smith (three) and Rashaan Melvin (two) have multiple interceptions this year. Overall, 10 different Huskies have intercepted passes. Northern Illinois' four interceptions against CMU was the highest single-game total since Nov. 20, 2004 when the Huskies picked off five passes versus Eastern Michigan.

Talking Toledo
Chandler Harnish directed a Huskie offense that gained 422 rushing yards and 584 total yards while scoring eight touchdowns as Northern Illinois dominated the visiting Toledo Rockets 65-30 Nov. 9 in a battle of unbeaten MAC teams on ESPN2. Harnish rushed for 149 yards on 13 carries to lead the Huskies, but NIU also got an 83-yard kickoff return score from Tommy Davis, and runs of 55 and 50 yards by Jasmin Hopkins and Akeem Daniels, respectively. Chad Spann scored three rushing TDs, Daniels scored twice and the NIU defense pitched a first-half shut out.

One key to Northern Illinois' success in 2010 has been its ability to hold onto the football. Northern Illinois is tied for seventh in the country in fewest fumbles lost with just five on the year. NIU saw its streak of four straight games without a fumble lost snapped in the first quarter at Ball State. Prior to that, the Huskies' went 259 carries between fumbles, since Chad Spann lost the ball on the very first carry of the Temple game.

It's Better to Receive
Northern Illinois' top four receivers - including senior Landon Cox, juniors Nathan Palmer and Willie Clark and sophomore Martel Moore - have accounted for 120 of NIU's 176 pass receptions for 1,592 yards and 17 scores on the year. Nearly all have had a spot atop the Huskies' receiving chart this year. Clark caught a pair of TD passes at Eastern Michigan to tie Palmer for the team lead in touchdown catches and take over the team lead in both catches (34) and yards (444). Nathan Palmer is enjoying the best, and most consistent year, of his career as the connection between he and fellow Indiana native Chandler Harnish has paid dividends for the Huskies. The two connected for four touchdowns against Western Michigan, Toledo (33 yards), and Ball State (37 and 47yards). The six TDs catches by both Palmer and Clark are the most by a Huskie receiver since Sam Hurd caught 13 in 2005.

Some Love for the Line
With three new starters in 2010, the Huskie offensive line was a question mark coming into the season, but Matt Limegrover's charges have more than passed the test so far. NIU ranks first in the MAC and tied for 10th in the country in fewest sacks allowed, having given up 10 in 12 games for an average of 0.83 per game, while also powering the top rushing offense in the league. Northern Illinois backs have 11 100-plus yard efforts so far while running behind tackles Trevor Olson and Keith Otis, guards Logan Pegram, Ed Jackson and Joe Pawlak and center Scott Wedige. Otis, the combination of Pegram and Jackson, and Wedige are all first-time starters in 2010, while Olson has started all 38 games of his NIU career. Pawlak, a former walk-on, is a two-year starter who is playing his best football in 2010.

Second-Half Huskies
When Western Michigan scored a fourth-quarter touchdown to take a 21-20 lead on NIU, it marked the first touchdown given up by the Huskie defense in the second half of a game since the Akron game on Oct. 2. Toledo then became the first Northern Illinois opponent to score MORE THAN one touchdown in the second half of a game this year. Despite the Rockets' 30-point second-half, NIU has outscored its opponents by 136 points in the second half this year, 234-98. In all, the Huskie defense has five shutout halves in 2010.

Going Long
The Huskies scored five of their nine touchdowns versus Toledo on plays of 25 yards or longer with only one the first of those scores - a 33-yard strike from Chandler Harnish to Nathan Palmer - coming via the pass. NIU got touchdown runs of 28, 50 and 55 yards from Harnish, Akeem Daniels and Jasmin Hopkins as five players rushed for 40 or more yards in the game. Tommy Davis accounted for the other long touchdown play with an 83-yard kickoff return score.

Top of His Game
Senior noseguard Mike Krause is quietly putting together the best season of his Huskie career. The senior, who was sidelined by a heart condition in 2009, established new career highs with five tackles and two tackles for loss in the Toledo game and his season totals now stand at a career-best 24 stops and five TFLs. NIU coaches have named Krause Northern Illinois' defensive lineman of the week three times this year, including versus Toledo and Western Michigan.

Coffman Saves the Day
Defensive end Jake Coffman was named the Mid-American Conference West Division Defensive Player of the Week for the first time this season after recording four tackles and an interception in NIU's 28-21 victory over Western Michigan. Coffman's second career interception, and first of the season, came on the Huskie 12-yard line with the Broncos driving for the game-tying score. He added five solo tackles, a sack and caused a fumble to set the tone in the Eastern Michigan game and earn his second MAC POTW honor. Coffman leads NIU in tackles for loss with 10 and in sacks with 4.5.

Return Record
Huskie sophomore Tommy Davis tied the Northern Illinois career record for kickoff return touchdowns with an 83-yard return for a score to close out the crazy third quarter of the NIU-Toledo game. Davis' kickoff return touchdown was the second of his career, tying him with Michael Turner (2000-03) and John Spilis (1966-68) for the NIU record. Davis, who was not touched en route to the end zone, ranks fourth all-time at NIU in kickoff returns and kickoff return yards.

Hidden Gems
Jerry Kill has continued a long-time NIU tradition of turning non-scholarship players into contributors and even starters. Five Huskie starters -- Chad Spann (TB), Joe Pawlak (OG), Jason Schepler (TE), Jake Coffman (DE) and Sean Progar (DE) -- and 11 players on NIU's current depth chart originally came to Northern Illinois as walk-ons. Key contributors Willie Clark (WR), Connor Flahive (FB), Jack Marks (TE) and Rashaan Melvin (CB) are also former walk-ons as are specialists Michael Cklamovski (K) and Ryan Neir (P).

Kiel Honored
NIU junior offensive lineman Adam Kiel is one of only 11 players from an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) program to be named to the 2010 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. He is the second Huskie to earn the honor in the last three years, joining 2008 honoree Matt Simon. The team is selected by a voting panel of former honorees, coaches and media members, and honors players who demonstrate outstanding commitment to service and volunteerism. The team will be introduced on the field at halftime of the Allstate Sugar Bowl and spend two days in New Orleans. Kiel participated in 11 different activities over the past year, and also coordinated many of the team's community service efforts. He serves as Vice-President of NIU's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

Here's the Kicker
NIU senior kicker Michael Cklamovski had never tried a field goal in a collegiate game prior to this year. Now, the University of Illinois graduate, former Illini kickoff man and current NIU law student is second in the Mid-American Conference with 15 field goals. After totaling 10 points at Eastern Michigan, Cklamovski has scored 93 points on the year with 48 PATs and at least one field goal in nine of the Huskies' last 10 games. He made seven straight field goals, beginning with his first ever college "make" - a career-long 48-yarder - versus his former team. In one season, Cklamovski is in the Huskie record books as his 48 PATs made this year are the third-highest total in school history while his 53 attempts have already broken the school record.

Team D
One key to Northern Illinois' defensive success so far in 2010 is depth. NIU is regularly playing 10 defensive linemen, five linebackers and seven defensive backs. No Huskies are ranked in the Top 30 in tackles in the Mid-American Conference, and there are not any NIU names in the league's top 10 for quarterback sacks, tackles for loss or fumbles forced. Twenty-two Huskie defenders have at least 10 tackles, 27 have been in on a tackle for loss, 12 have sacks and 10 different players have intercepted passes.

Coffman Comes Back
One of the top recruits for NIU Head Coach Jerry Kill heading into this season was no newcomer. After announcing his "retirement" from college football following the 2010 International Bowl, defensive end Jake Coffman came to Kill in May and asked if he could return. He completed his bachelor's degree in the spring, but with the encouragement of his dad, decided to return to "finish" what he had started with the Huskie football team. The 26-year-old Marine Corps veteran brings, experience, leadership and proven credentials to the defensive line. He led the team with 13.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and five pass break ups to earn all-MAC honors as a junior and is again among the Huskie team leaders in both sacks and tackles for loss in 2010.

Rehab Results
Senior safety Mike Sobol returned to the field for the season opener versus Iowa State, just four months after surgery to repair a torn left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Sobol was allowed to practice on a limited basis 3 1/2 months after surgery and was given the "full go" two weeks later. He came back nearly two months sooner than normal after averaging two-plus hours of rehab per day. With an injury to starter safety Wilson versus Illinois, Sobol has started each of the Huskies' last nine games at strong safety. He ranks seventh on the team with 35 tackles.

Preseason Predictions
Northern Illinois was a popular choice to win the MAC West Division by the pollsters this preseason as the Mid-American Conference Preseason Poll, USA Today, Athlon, Sporting News, CBS, and Sports Illustrated, among others, tabbed the Huskies as the MAC West favorites. The last time NIU was picked to win the West was in 2006 prior to Garrett Wolfe's senior season. Earlier this year, the Huskies were also named as one of the top 50 teams in the country by Sporting News and Phil Steele's Magazine.

The Northern Illinois offense fit that description at Akron as the NIU offense scored on EIGHT straight possessions (in which it ran a play) and did not punt until less than seven minutes remained in the game. The Huskies' first three drives each resulted in field goals, while the next five ended in the end zone.

Dashing Versus Dakota
In his first start of 2010, NIU junior quarterback Chandler Harnish ran like he never had before. Versus North Dakota, Harnish rushed for a career-best 178 yards on 21 carries to compile the most rushing yards by a Northern Illinois quarterback since Huskie great Stacey Robinson ran for 308 yards versus Fresno State on Oct. 8, 1990. Robinson and Marshall Taylor are the only Northern Illinois quarterbacks to run for more yards in a game.

Non-Conference Review
NIU wrapped up its 2010 non-conference schedule in September as the Huskies started the season with four straight non-conference games for the second straight year. Northern Illinois finished its non-league slate with a 2-2 record for the second straight season. The Huskies lost to Iowa State and Illinois while defeating Minnesota and North Dakota in this year's non-conference match-ups. Under Jerry Kill, NIU is 5-7 in non-conference games over the last three years, with three of the losses by four points or less.

Coaching Continuity
One secret to Kill's success has been the continuity on his coaching staff. His two coordinators - Tracy Claeys on defense and Matt Limegrover on offense - have been with Kill for 14 and 10 years, respectively, and the nine full-time assistant coaches average nine years with Kill. Add Director of Sports Performance Eric Klein, who qualifies as Kill's longest-tenured assistant, and the average jumps to 9.7. Kill brought seven of his assistant coaches and Klein from Southern Illinois, with defensive line coach Jeff Phelps now the only holdover from Joe Novak's staff.

Coach Z
Kill was thrilled to add Division III Offensive Coordinator of the Year Jim Zebrowski to the staff as the Huskies' quarterbacks coach when an opening came up on the staff last February. Zebrowski, who most recently won a pair of NCAA Division III national championships as the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin-Whitewater, and Kill have known each other since the latter arrived at Southern Illinois, although Zebrowski left the school before Kill arrived. With Zebrowski's arrival as quarterbacks coach, Pat Poore has moved over to tutor the NIU wide receivers in 2010.



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