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Northern Illinois @ Central Michigan: The Mental Edge

So Central Michigan, you've wrapped up the MAC West title.  What's up next for you?

2006 - A 7-3 CMU clinches the West with a victory over Western Michigan.

The next week: a 10-31 loss to a 5-5 Northern Illinois in Dekalb

2007 - A 6-4 CMU clinches the West with a victory over Western Michigan

The next week: a 45-48 loss to a 3-8 Eastern Michigan at home

If CMU doesn't have a title to play for, they're simply not going to show up.  Look at what happened last year:

2008 - An 8-3 CMU eliminated from title contention after loss to Ball State

The next week: a 52-56 loss to a 2-9 Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti

After Ball State ripped away all their hopes and dreams, the Chippewas laid down and let Eastern Michigan roll up on them.

So what DOES Central Michigan have to play for?  10 wins.  Undefeated in-conference.  Senior night/LeFevour stat-padding night.  Doesn't sound that exciting, because it isn't.  I honestly don't think that Butch Jones has the capability to get this team ready for Friday.  It's just natural instinct to play less hard now that they've already clinched.  Part of the players psyche.

Plus it's Thanksgiving weekend.  The players minds might be elsewhere.  The stadium will be nowhere near full capacity as most students will be home.

So what does NIU have to play for?

  • The game last year in Dekalb went to OT where Harnish threw a pick and we lost 30-33, so there's the revenge factor.
  • CMU is the best team in the West and it would feel good to win the last game of the regular season, much unlike last year's fiasco against Navy.
  • Definitely would like to put a sour taste in the Chips mouth on senior night.  Would definitely enjoy to see Dan LeFevour cry, but I think that's impossible because he's not human therefore he has no tears.
  • 8 wins puts us in a better bowl position than 7 wins.  8 wins may even help us leapfrog Ohio into a MAC-affiliated bowl game.  It sure as hell guarantees us a spot over a potentially 7-win Bowling Green.  Nothing is for sure people, we're fighting to keep this season alive!

You can go on and on about stats and whatnot, but so far this season stats don't mean bull.  Statistically, we should have beaten both Toledo and Ohio, but we didn't.  So what do you turn to?  The psychological edge that Northern Illinois has over CMU.  We've both played the same terrible MAC teams and mediocre Big 10 teams, so there can't be a mountainous difference between the two squads.  It's whoever gets out there, puts effort into their playing and executes will win the game.

In order to counteract that notion however, CMU has been working on their 6th sense skills:

Special powers?: Toledo coach Tim Beckman, fresh off losing, 56-28, to Central Michigan, said Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour reminded him of some of the quarterbacks he saw in the Big 12 South as Oklahoma State’s defensive coordinator like Texas’ Colt McCoy and Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford.

"They don’t just beat you with their arms or their legs, they beat you with their minds by making plays," Beckman said.

Whatever you do Huskies, just make sure you don't stare directly in to the eyes of Antonio Brown on Friday and you'll be fine...