Created:Sunday, October 3, 2010 1:06 a.m.CDT

NIU Notes: NIU-Kansas still on, Schiller returns

Northern Illinois defenders D.J. Pirkle (98) and Alex Kube (37) tackle Akron wide receiver Jeremy LaFrance (center) during the Huskies 50-14 win over the Zips in their MAC football game at InfoCision Stadium on Saturday in Akron, Ohio. (Ed Suba Jr./Akron Beacon Journal)

AKRON, Ohio – Northern Illinois’ home-and-home series with Kansas in 2011 and 2012 will not be affected by the Big 12’s expansion to a nine-game conference schedule, NIU athletic director Jeff Compher told Huskie Wire on Saturday night.

“What they’ve said to me is we’re set to go as scheduled,” Compher said.

NIU and Kansas signed a two-game contract last year. The Huskies will play in Lawrence, Kan., on Sept. 10, 2011. The Jayhawks then will make a return trip to DeKalb on Sept. 22, 2012.

Compher said he’s been in contact with Kansas athletic department officials “for weeks,” telling KU officials that NIU would be willing to alter details of the series, including gametimes, but that he didn’t want to lose either of the games.

“I knew they wanted to do it and I knew we wanted to do it, and I knew we’d cooperate with each other,” Compher said. “It’s been that way the whole time we’ve been working with them. I felt good about being able to keep it. But I also know that when things happen, we’re not really in the driver’s seat. So you have to work with them.

“I think it means a lot to our fans. That’s the thing I always had in the back of my mind. I don’t want to lose that Big 12 home game for us.”

Back in action: Junior linebacker Pat Schiller returned to the field for the Huskies during the fourth quarter. He missed the first four games of the season as he continued recovery from a torn ACL suffered in the spring.

“It’s just unbelievable,” Schiller said. “I can’t even describe the emotions that just came through my body. Finally, I’m back.

“Throughout the week at practice, I felt it. I knew I would have to play with some pain. When I went out there, really just the adrenaline filled my body. I’m feeling it now after the game just settling down, but when I was out there it was unbelievable.”

Kill said he’d monitor Schiller’s future playing time.

“I don’t know how many plays he took. That’s a concern,” Kill said. “I want to make sure we’re smart with that.”

Big leg: NIU senior kicker Michael Cklamovski was 3 for 3 on field goals, making attempts of 27, 27 and 43 yards. The former Illinois kicker has made six straight attempts, dating back to a 48-yarder against the Illini, over the past three weeks.

He’s the unquestioned starter after splitting time with freshman Matthew Sims to start the season.

“He’s got a huge leg,” Kill said. “Sooner or later you got to believe in something and somebody, and I believe in Mike. I believe we made the right decision, and right now it’s proving to be a good decision on our part.”

Will NIU football win the MAC this season?