This is Homecoming weekend at NIU and the town is abuzz. One of the ever-popular homecoming festivities is the parade, which will begin at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10th. The grand marshal of the parade is NIU alumnus Dan McCullough, who will be attending his 58th straight homecoming this year. President Baker and NIU mascot Mission are also participating, and community groups are encouraged to participate with floats and walking entries.
The parade will start at Third and Oak south on Third to Lincoln Highway, right on Lincoln Highway, right on First St, left on Augusta, left on Rolfe, right on Woodley, left on Lucinda, right on Kishwaukee Drive. After the parade, head to the West Lagoon at 7 p.m. for the bonfire and pep rally.Huskie fans are asked to wear black on Saturday to show their spirit and pride during the homecoming football game, which begins at 4 p.m.
Something golden will lurk amid all the black inside Huskie Stadium at NIU’s 108th Homecoming.
The 4-1 Huskies, who have notched 50 Football Bowl Subdivision wins since 2010, will play Central Michigan University for the 50th time.
And with NIU looking to push its second-in-the-nation win total to 51, maybe it’s no coincidence that 51 weeks have passed since the last time these two teams met – a Huskie road victory that saw Jordan Lynch set an NCAA record for rushing yards by a quarterback.
Coach Rod Carey, quick to call the 3-3 Chippewas a good and improved team, expects some black-and-blue #MACtion.
“It’s going to be a big boy slugfest,” Carey said. “It’s one of those games where it comes down to matchups and who wants it more, so I think that’s what we have to do. And we’re anxious to get back on the field and get going. I know I am because we want to get better. That’s the biggest thing we want to do is get better.”
Fans should expect a “four-quarter fight,” offensive lineman Levon Myers confirmed.
“Every week, we know we have a target on our back in this conference,” Myers said. “We’re going to get every team’s best shot, and we like the challenge. We love going out there and taking the team’s best shot.”Game time is 4 p.m. All students are admitted free with an NIU One Card.
Although Central Michigan leads the overall series 25-23-1, the Huskies own a 14-9-1 edge in their home stadium. NIU, which has taken the last two contests versus the Chippewas, has won 24 straight Mid-American Conference regular season games.
Quarterback Drew Hare will start, although the coach has plans to play Anthony Maddie as well.
Coming off a close 17-14 win over Kent State University last weekend, Carey said the defense and special teams played well. He wasn’t surprised by the uncharacteristic offensive showing though and knows that his team could have performed better.
“I don’t know if ‘surprised’ is ever the right word because then it makes it seem like you think you’re invincible. We’re not,” he said. “And I wasn’t surprised so much as maybe, in some cases, disappointed that it wasn’t going the way that I thought it could.”
“We really didn’t get the job done,” wide receiver Aregeros Turner said.
“We expected to have more points than we did as an offense, to have more rushing yards, more passing yards, everything. It’s just not what we’re used to,” he added. “We left a lot of points out there by mistakes, like jumping offsides or dropped balls. You just have to make sure that every time we get to the red zone, we score a touchdown. So that’s what we try to do instead of kick field goals.”
Players are eager to get back to the field, the coach said, but they understand that practice comes first. That means not only an emphasis on the fundamentals, but the game plan as well.
“You can’t just show up and think it’s going to happen,” Carey said. “There are some tangible things that we need to get better at today. This isn’t a situation where you have a little magic pixie dust that you wipe over their heads and here we go. We have tangible things we have to do today.”
That said, “you never ever discount winning. And we didn’t and we won’t ever do that because winning is winning. By one or by 50, it doesn’t matter,” the coach added. “There were a lot of things to correct on this film. And so there were times when the feeling wasn’t real good watching the film, but you don’t lose the 10,000-foot view that you still won.”
Challenges from the Chippewas include an aggressive defense that returned all four starters, a tough running back in Thomas Rawls, who Carey says is perhaps as good as his counterparts at Arkansas, and “difference maker” Titus Davis, “one of the finest wideouts in the conference, if not the country.”
“They’re a very talented group of receivers who like to compete and they play real hard. They block well,” cornerback Mayomi Olootu said. “We are just going to play our game like we do – practice hard and … just going to get ready for them.”
Fans who can’t make it Saturday can watch all the action on ESPN3 or listen to the play-by-play on AM 560 WIND from Chicago or WCPT 92.5 FM from DeKalb. For more information on NIU football and Huskie athletics, visit niuhuskies.com.
A season ticket for all five home games is $110 for the general public and $95 for NIU faculty and staff, NIU Alumni Association members and senior citizens. Single-game tickets on the west side of Huskie Stadium are priced at $25, $36 and $40 each, depending on seat locations. Senior citizen pricing is set at $25, $30 and $34, while east side (general admission) single-game tickets are $20.
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