BY: MATT ORGAN | Sideline Reporter for Ball State Football on WCRD 91.3 FM
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When you think of the best football team in the Mid-American Conference, for the last six years, Northern Illinois definitely comes to mind.
The Huskies have won the MAC West six years in a row and were crowned overall MAC Champions four times during that span. It’s impressive.
Now consider this, NIU has won 44 of the last 48 games against a MAC West opponent dating back to 2009. Even more interesting, the last time the Huskies lost to a MAC West school not named Central Michigan was October of 2009.
While Northern Illinois has been the model of success in the MAC, the visit to Muncie Saturday brings with it a surprising 0-4 record. You look deeper and see the tough road they have had so far. The first game of the year for the Huskies was a triple-overtime loss against Wyoming, 40-34.
The second game was a 48-17 blowout, where the University of South Florida Bulls dominated the entire time. Not to mention the Huskies veteran quarterback Drew Hare went out with an injury in game and has been declared out for the season.
The third go around for NIU was a 42-28 loss to San Diego State. They fell down 28-0 in the first half and never were able to recover.
However, the one that hurts the worst if you are a Huskies fan is a five-point loss to FCS school Western Illinois. After getting down early in the game, NIU scored 21 straight in the second half to close the game to 28-23, but they couldn’t finish the comeback.
With more than five starters injured and not expected to play Saturday, banged up does not do it justice when describing the Huskies.
A new quarterback will start for Northern Illinois this week. Fifth-year senior Anthony Maddie, who transferred from Western Michigan two years ago, gets his first start against Ball State.
When you look at all that has happened to NIU, you might think this is an easy win for Ball State. Head coach Mike Neu isn’t in that mindset.
“Northern Illinois is a really good team,” Neu said. “There is a lot of talent on that roster and with the Bronze Stalk up for grabs, you know they will be fired up.”
Neu made it a point to mention that no matter what, the road to a MAC Championship goes through the Huskies.