NIU Huskies football will complete its three-game October homestand and look to extend its four-game winning streak Saturday, Oct. 23, as defending Mid-American Conference champion Central Michigan visits Huskie Stadium during Hall of Fame Weekend.
Kick-off for the MAC West battle is set for 3 p.m.
“We worked very hard Sunday and Monday. All our coaches are ready to get all the kids out on the practice field and begin preparing,” head coach Jerry Kill said of the Huskies (5-2, 3-0).
“We had a good win over Buffalo. Having been able to evaluate the film, we’ve seen a lot of positive things and things that are getting better. We’ve seen some things that we’ll continue to work on, but I think that’s something every football team in the country can say,” Kill added.
“Right now, we just hope our young men will get focused and concentrate on one day at a time and keep getting better. At this point in time, they’ve done that. Hopefully we can continue to get them to buy into what we’re selling.”
The Chippewas of Central Michigan (2-5, 1-3), who beat the Huskies 45-31 during their last meeting in the final regular season game of 2009, are coming off a loss at home to Miami.
However, Kill cautioned, Huskie fans shouldn’t let the CMU record fool them.
“It’s almost like they haven’t been able to buy a break,” he said. “Defensively, they’re a football team that’s very much the same defense that played very strong in our conference a year ago. Their two inside linebackers are the best that we’ve faced to this point. Defensively, they’re very sound. Offensively, the quarterback is throwing the ball around. It’s a deal where you take a point or two or a break here or there. They just haven’t been able to buy a break. It’s a good football team. We understand that.”
Consequently, the coach said, fans should expect “a heck of a game.”
“One thing I see on film from them is I see them playing hard all the time. That’s kind of been the trademark to that program. You don’t win as many games as they have, and they still have a ton of players that have been a part of that, and forget how to do it. They’re going to be motivated. Are they going to be highly, highly motivated? You bet. Why wouldn’t they be? You’re coming in and we’re 3-0 and they feel like if they get that one, then they’re back in it,” Kill said. “Will they be motivated? You bet, but so should we. We should be motivated. We’re playing here at home and I think our kids understand if you take care of business at home, then you have a great opportunity.”
Meanwhile, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Saturday is “Tackle Breast Cancer” day at Huskie Stadium.
Pink pom pons will be distributed on both sides of the stadium along with 500 pink carnations, and fans are being encouraged to wear pink to the game. NIU players and coaches will sport pink wristbands and the officials will use pink whistles. In addition, the halftime tunnel will be formed by breast cancer survivors and local Relay for Life participants.
For more information on NIU football and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.