On Sunday, NIU entered the two major national college football polls – the USA Today Coaches Poll and the Associated Press Poll – at No. 23 and No. 24, respectively. Northern Illinois garnered 130 votes in the Coaches’ Poll to come in at No. 23, behind No. 21 Utah (291 points) and No. 22 Mississippi State (223) and ahead of No. 24 West Virginia (110) and No. 25 UCF (62). In the Associated Press rankings, NIU earned 130 points to take the No. 24 ranking, ahead of No. 25 Hawai’i (43 points) and just behind No. 23 West Virginia (147).
NIU third-year head coach Jerry Kill appreciates the recognition that comes with being ranked but wants his team to remain focused on its goals, namely Friday’s game versus Miami (Ohio) for the MAC title.
“It’s good for our school and good for our football program, and this Friday we’ll see if we’re worthy of it,” Kill said. “We’ve done a nice job, so far, but those are the key words – so far.”
The Huskies, who completed the first undefeated (8-0) MAC season in school history with a 71-3 victory over Eastern Michigan last Friday, are the only 10-win team in the country to have played only five home games in 2010. NIU has tied its school record for victories in a season and has broken the all-time mark for points scored in a year while scoring 65, 59 and 71 points in its last three games.
Northern Illinois will play in the Marathon MAC Championship for the second time, and the first time since 2005 as the Huskies attempt to win their first MAC title since 1983. The game kicks off at 7 p.m. (ET)/6 p.m. (CT) on ESPN2.
Tickets for the Marathon MAC Championship game are $20 each (free for NIU students) and can be purchased online through the link at www.NIUHuskies.com or by calling the NIU Athletics Ticket Office at 815-752-6800. Information on travel packages, student and fan buses is also available – see the link on the front page of www.NIUHuskies.com.
by Donna Turner