Northern Illinois ready to go full blast at home
BY STEVE NITZ Shaw Media October 11, 2013 10:06PM
Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch looks to throw a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Akron at No. 23 Northern Illinois
The facts: 4 p.m., ESPN3, 670-AM.
The records: Akron 1-5, 0-2 MAC, NIU 5-0, 1-0.
The line: NIU by 231⁄2.
Updated: November 13, 2013 6:13AM
DeKALB — Northern Illinois is one of only four Football Bowl Subdivision teams to have played only one home game.
The Huskies have played in two Big Ten venues and had a long trip to Idaho and a short flight to Ohio for the Mid-American Conference opener at Kent State.
Playing at Huskie Stadium almost might seem weird at this point. There won’t be any packing, charter buses or airports.
Awaiting No. 23 NIU on Saturday at Huskie Stadium will be what is expected to be a packed house when the Huskies take on 1-5 Akron, which is winless in MAC play. The school officially announced the game as a sellout, which would be the second consecutive game the place has been full. The official attendance for the home opener against Eastern Illinois was 23,595.
“I’m really excited about it,” coach Rod Carey said. “I know with the atmosphere we had in that first game, our players are so excited to be here because we have a home-field advantage, and we’re going to need that on Saturday.”
A victory would be NIU’s 23rd in a row at Huskie Stadium, a MAC record.
The victory over EIU was the only one during the streak that was played in front of a sellout crowd. NIU’s last sellout had been against Maryland in 2003.
Defensive end Jason Meehan called the crowd a 12th man.
“They share the same emotion with you,’’ Meehan said. ‘‘When you’re doing well, they’re up and they’re pumping you up to do well. When the other team’s up, they kind of make it tougher for them to play. It helps us a lot.”
Last season, former coach Dave Doeren mentioned how much it would mean to have NIU’s students show up in full force.
Doeren didn’t get to experience the sellout crowd he had hoped for, but Carey and the current group of players have.
After the team’s first home victory, the players went over to the student section to salute the crowd that filled up the east side of Huskie Stadium to the top.
The team has celebrated with the fans after road wins at Iowa and Purdue, and Meehan said he doesn’t see why the team won’t keep doing it.
“We’re real happy they’re coming out, so I imagine we will,” he said. “We love to see people come out and stay for the whole game.”