As we begin to sell our soul to ESPN's weekday schedule, here are some reasons why EMU-NIU should be the center of your attention, at least for a half:
1. Battle for Bowl Eligibility
6 wins will not only make the Huskies bowl-eligible, it also matches the win total from last year with an extra 3 or more games to go in the season. It's looking like more than 6 wins will be needed to get into a bowl game this year, but would be quite the accomplishment in only Jerry Kill's second year here as Head Coach.
2. Short Week Phenomena
It will be interesting how both teams react after the very short turnaround from Saturday. While NIU played a home game at 11 AM, the EMU Eagles had to travel all the way to Fayetteville for a night game. These factors give the Huskies a day and a half, maybe two days of extra preparation.
3. 'Kill Ball'
Run the ball, stop the run, don't turn the ball over. Simple, yet effective. In the last two games, NIU has out-gained their opponents a combined 477-20 on the ground. It should be interesting to see what this 15th-ranked rushing attack does to the 120th ranked run defense of EMU. The only teams that throw less than us are GT & the military academies. You're gonna see 8-9 guys in the box on every single play.
4. RB Chad Spann
A recent recruit called Northern Illinois "Running Back U". I was watching the former Huskie Michael Turner play for the Falcons on Monday night and blasphemous thoughts rang through my head. I thought that Turner was pulling some Spann moves out there breaking tackles left and right. Consider #28 a 'Mini Burner'. He runs harder than any running back I've ever seen play. He'll go in to piles, keep driving his feet, spring out of there like houdini for a touchdown. Truly a spectacle to watch. 5th in the nation in scoring with 14 TDs on teh season.
5. QB DeMarcus Grady
With starter Chandler Harnish out with a knee injury, DeMarcus has stepped up and lead this team to two straight victories. He hasn't passed much, but isn't expected to. Essentially we are running the wildcat formation with him in shotgun, as it seems he always to hit the corner when sprinting out to grab the first down. In his third straight start, expect for more passes being called to gain him some experience in that department.
6. DT Jake Coffman
The 25-year-old former Marine continues to impress, even after moving from DE to the middle after a season-ending hand injury to Brian Lawson. He's had 7 TFLs and 3.5 sacks these past two games. Definitely the soul of the defense and somebody to be looked up to.
7. Ron English
Here's a guy that you've probably heard of, having worked as both a defensive coordinator at Michigan and at Louisville. He's taken on project hell at Eastern Michigan. Less than 10 miles from Ann Arbor, lies Ypsilanti home to the relatively unknown Eagles. If English can't fix the program there, then no one can.
8. The Weather
Dekalb, IL is home to some of the stranger weather that you happen to see in the Midwest. You name it, you'll probably see it in the course of a day. Last week it was 25-30 mph winds. This week, who knows. In 2006 & 2008, November ESPN weekday broadcasts featured a "Fog Game" where you couldn't even see the field against Toledo & Central Michigan respectively.
9. You're sick of Thursday night Beamer Ball
10. You're sick of Holtz-on-Holtz crime