This homecoming week should be one for the ages.
Many call the NIU-Toledo matchup this weekend a one-sided rivalry. The situation is that NIU hates Toledo's guts, but they really could care less about beating us. Northern Star's Jerry Burnes is misinformed in saying
"NIU and Toledo are two of the conference’s premier programs historically, and in my opinion the biggest rivalry in the conference."
The CMU vs WMU rivalry is better. As is Toledo vs BGSU and Kent vs Akron. We'll have to start beating Toledo game-in and game-out to eventually consider this a two-sided rivalry.
Why do we hate the Toledo Rockets? Maybe its the fact that we've only been able to beat them one time (2005) since 1990. Toledo HC Tom Amstutz completely owned Joe Novak during his tenure here at NIU from 1996-2007. Both Toledo and NIU have been top dogs in the MAC for the last few years.
Games against the Rockets have screwed NIU out of MAC Championships in 2003 and 2004. In 2005, Garrett Wolfe and the Huskies finally managed to pull it out against the vaunted Rockets in Toledo. The "Fog Game" in 2006 we should have won, but there were some disputed coaching calls and a lack of getting Wolfe the ball. NIU hit rock bottom in their 2-7 2007 season, losing 70-21 in Toledo
However this is a new era in NIU Football with a new HC in Jerry Kill, which hopefully bring a new result to this one-sided history of matchups against the Rockets.
The Crowd Factor
If we want to win this game, we need the crowd to be intense and everybody needs to stay the entire game. Last week had a disappointing amount of fans (17,444), but Homecoming always seems to bring a huge crowd to the game. Our crowd really needs to step it up:
"[Coach Kill] challenged us about the towels but the towels didn’t really get it," said Farlow in respect to getting the crowd pumped. "So I decided to grab a white board and put ‘Get louder’ on it. And then John [Hopkins] helped me out by making another sign that said ‘Get up and get loud.’"
"Our crowd today was probably, not probably, was the difference in the game," Kill said. "I guarantee, if it would have been quite in that stadium [Miami] would have drove down and score."
Here's the video of Coach Kill thanking the fans that stayed and cheered:
Tuesday brought another article in the NStar urging fans to come to the HC game. I hope this sort of tactic works for Saturday because everybody on campus reads the school paper while passing time in class and such:
"It’s a lot easier to play on defense when your crowd is loud and getting into it," said NIU wide receiver Nathan Palmer after the game. "The fans’ energy is what really helped us."
"[The crowd] being loud at the end really helped our defense...they played with a lot more energy at the end," Palmer said.
"The fans were kind of making us mad at first," said NIU defensive lineman John Hopkins. "They weren’t getting up and they were dead."
"Come out to the game ready to cheer loud," Palmer said. "Lose your voice if you have to."
Also, Thunderstix will be back for this game, which is a huge plus and a tradition brought back to Huskie Stadium.