AKRON, Ohio – Northern Illinois was happy about two things after Saturday's football game.
The first was obviously the Huskies' 50-14 win against Akron in their Mid-American Conferece opener. The team also was pleased that it finally will be able to play three straight games at home after having four of the first five contests away from DeKalb.
“We've had a tough road stretch. We're just glad to come [to Akron] and get a win,” NIU coachJerry Kill said. “We're looking forward to going home. It's tough to win on the road and we were able to do it.
“The travel is what wears you out. I might be more worn out than the kids, to be honest with you.”
That travel hasn't been easy for NIU. After the Huskies' 34-23 victory at Minnesota on Sept. 25, the team had about a six-hour bus ride home and didn't back until 6:30 a.m.
“It's tough, but we've been prepared for it through camp and everything,” said wide receiver Nathan Palmer, who had a 58-yard touchdown reception in the win over the Zips. “It's tiring, it takes away a little bit from school work.You have to play catch-up in school. But it's a good experience fo rus. It tests your character, because your character is tested on the road.
“Coach (Kill) always talks about playing on the road. [The coaching staff] did a great job preparing us for this.”
NIU will be able to return to Huskie Stadium in what the media predicted to be a MAC Championship preview in a preseason poll when the Huskies host Temple on Saturday at 11 a.m.
With NIU getting the big win at Minnesota while hosting Temple on Saturday, Akron looked like it could be a possible trap game. But any chance of that diminished pretty quickly.
“We're just taking it one game at a time. Now that [Akron]'s out of the way, we'll probably talk about Temple,” Palmer said. “They're a great football team, I've watched them on TV. But we've just been taking it one game at a time. When coach presented us Akron this week, that's all we looked at is Akron.
“We didn't even worry about Temple. Now we can worry about Temple.”
If there's any indication that NIU wasn't looking ahead to the Owls, all you have to do is talk to Huskies linebacker Devon Butler. When asked about his thoughts on the injury to Bernard Pierce, possibly the top running back in the MAC who injured his ankle two weeks ago against Penn State and didn't play Saturday in Temple's 42-35 win over Army, Butler just gave a blank stare.
“See, we don't even look at that kind of stuff,” he said, "injuries and all that kind of stuff. We just come to play.”