Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren sat at the Mid-American Conference Media Day in July and talked about how badly he wants to beat Central Michigan after losing to them last year.
He wants redemption against CMU (2-1) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in DeKalb, Ill., where the Huskies (3-1) are on a 17-game home win streak.
“We really look forward to playing (CMU) after they beat us,” Doeren said before NIU had played a game this season. “We needed to lose a game, it was a reality check. But now, that is a game we are looking forward to.”
The Chippewas won 48-41 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium last season. NIU went on to win its next nine games, including the MAC Championship Game and the GoDaddy.com Bowl game.
“Last year, they beat us,” Doeren said. “It is one of those games our kids would love to play over; we weren’t focused in that football game.”
It took career days from several CMU players to get the win. Quarterback Ryan Radcliff threw for a career-high four touchdowns and was seven yards shy of his career-high of 394. Former running back Paris Cotton had more than 100 rushing and receiving yards, and safety Jahleel Addae had a career-high 18 tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble.
Even though Doeren said NIU is gunning for CMU, it is not one-sided.
“We’ve got them targeted, too,” CMU head coach Dan Enos said. “They are the MAC Champions. They’ve got a target on their back when they play every week. It is a huge game; we’re looking forward to going there.”
It will be senior wide receiver Cody Wilson’s fourth time playing NIU; he is 2-1 against the Huskies.
“In the MAC, NIU every year has been one of those top teams,” he said. “It is a big game for us starting conference play with a very good MAC team. I think a lot of polls picked them to win the MAC. We’ll be ready to go – we better be ready to go, or it’s going to be a long one.”
Like CMU, the Huskies are coming off a big win over a major conference team. NIU needed to score 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat the Kansas Jayhawks 30-23 Saturday.
In the past two seasons, NIU has only lost one MAC game each year. Last year, that loss was at the hands of CMU, and in 2010, it was to Miami (Ohio) in the MAC Championship game.
“We were the last team to beat them in the MAC,” Radcliff sad. “That one blemish from last year — they will definitely try to make up for it this year. We’ve always had a pretty good little rivalry with NIU, just because they are one of the top teams in the MAC. We’re gunning for them just as much as they are us.”
Seniors left tackle Jake Olson and wide receiver Jerry Harris will both be out for the game. Senior defensive back Anthony Young is also probable, Enos said.