All-time Northern Illinois is 0-3 against Illinois, playing in 1992, 1994 and 2001. Now whereas the early nineties version of NIU was one of the worst times to be a fan, 2001 was just about as the Novak era was hitting its stride.
When we actually had a good kicking game, Steve Azar put the Huskies up 6-3 with kicks of 35 and 50 yds going into the 4th quarter in Champaign.
The strong defensive effort would last until Kurt Kittner came through with two straight touchdown passes to take an affirming lead of 17-6.
The Huskies came within striking distance of the Illini on this pass from Chris Finlen to Darrell "The Thrill" Hill, but it was too little as the Huskies lost this one 12-17.
The Huskies actually outgained Illinois in first downs (23-18) and total yardage (+30), but Chris Finlen was only 17 of 44 for 159 yds with 2 interceptions and just the one TD. Illinois was held to only 102 yds rushing on the ground.
P.J. Fleck caught 7 balls for 67 yds and on the other side of the ball Brandon Lloyd caught 7 passes for 126 yds.
It was a typical NIU running game as Thomas Hammock finished with 23 rushes for 111 yds and Michael Turner also had 14 carries for 73.
So what I would take from this gameplan is to just keep running the ball like we know how to do and take shots down the field when we can. Also, it is going to be extremely important to win the turnover battle. Also, the defense has to play smart and not give up the big play, especially late in the game.
For anybody thinking that Saturday is going to be a blowout, just remember how close we came to winning against an Illini team that went to the Sugar Bowl.