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Football team travels to Central Michigan

September 28, 2011
Tommylee Lewis celebrates a touchdown Saturday vs. Cal Poly.

Tommylee Lewis celebrates a touchdown Saturday vs. Cal Poly.

Energized by a 47-30 home victory over Cal Poly, Head Coach Dave Doeren and the NIU Huskie football team will travel to Mt. Pleasant, Mich., this week to play Central Michigan.

The game, which opens NIU’s Mid-American Conference schedule, begins at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1.

Fans can watch the game on ESPN-3, hear the play-by-play on WSCR 670-AM and WLBK 1360-AM or follow the action on

Doeren said he and his 2-2 Huskies regard the win as “a great way to get back to being ready to play for the conference with the style of play we want to have.”

“This week we have a huge challenge of playing the team that’s won our conference three of the past four years – done something three times in four years that we haven’t done in 28. It’s a goal of ours,” Doeren said.

“We know how hard it is to play on the road, especially at a place that has the environment that they have at Central, a great challenge in front of us. There’s not a player on our roster that’s won up there at their place. I know that’s a huge goal for them, to travel on the road and win somewhere they haven’t. We look forward to that opportunity and that challenge ahead of us this week.”

Even though Central Michigan is 1-3 so far this season, Doeren expects a physical game with plenty of “hitting” tackles. The Chippewas boast a hard-playing defense that “loads the box and dares you to throw.”

Former NIU coach Joe Novak offered Doeren some advice on Central Michigan, which owns a 24-21-1 overall record versus NIU and has won 15 of 23 games played in Mt. Pleasant.

“(We) talked about how the environment up there can be; their student section can be one of the best in the conference. Talked about the tradition they have there of winning; how many of the players still on that team have tasted that victory. They have a taste of what we want,” Doeren said.

“Even though they haven’t gotten off to the start they’ve wanted, they’ve played really good football with some good teams. That’s where we’re at. We’re really in an eight-week season right now, and all the focus is one game at a time. As much info we can get about that opponent, we’ll try to.”

Nathan Palmer

Nathan Palmer

Wide receiver Nathan Palmer is pumped up for the challenge.

“Anytime you go on the road, it’s just hard. It’s not your fans, it’s their fans. It’s hard for the defense to get riled up because you don’t have the home field advantage. It’s a great atmosphere to play in, and I’m excited to go up there and see what we can do.”

Beating Cal Poly and rediscovering an offensive groove in the process will help, Palmer said, adding that NIU’s loss to Wisconsin at Soldier Field offered a “rude awakening.”

“I firmly believe that wasn’t us at all. We got away from doing what we normally do, and got caught up in the moment,” he said. “It felt good to get out there (against Cal Poly), play hard and get back to doing what we do. It was a great thing going into conference play. I’d rather us come off a great showing going into conference – building up that confidence again.”

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