MUNCIE, Ind. – Northern Illinois knows there is still work to do.
Sure, the MAC West championship is a great accomplishment. That being said, there is still one more game to play, one that’s still important.
The Huskies are forced to tackle a short week and have to travel to Ypsilanti, Mich. to take on Eastern Michigan on Friday before heading to the Mid-American Conference Championship game in Detroit on Friday, Dec. 3, where they will play the MAC East Division champion.
Even with the short week, even with the fact that the Huskies have clinched, NIU isn’t worried about a letdown in Friday’s game. After all, Saturday’s 59-21 win over Ball State could have been a spot for a possible letdown after the team’s 65-30 win over Toledo on Nov. 9.
“We don’t want to let that game down,” NIU running back Chad Spann said. “We don’t want to go 9-3, we want to go 10-2. So, we’re going to be well-prepared for that game.”
There’s also the aspect of becoming the first NIU team to go unbeaten in MAC play.
“That’s one of our goals. It’s right there in front of us,” NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish said. “If we do that it will mean a lot.”
The Huskies’ likely MAC title game opponent will be Ohio, which beat NIU 38-31 last season in Athens, Ohio. The Bobcats (8-3, 6-1 MAC) will clinch the MAC East with a win at 4-7 Kent State on Friday, or a Temple win at Miami (Ohio) on Tuesday.
NIU’s players don’t lie. They follow what happens in the MAC East. It’s hard not to with all these late-season games on national television.
With Miami and Temple on ESPN2 Tuesday, expect some of the NIU players to be glued to the TV.
“Oh yeah, we’re going to watch it. If I’m not in study tables, if I’m not in the film room, we’re going to watch it,” NIU wide receiver Nathan Palmer said. “I watched the Ohio and Temple game and I was rooting for Ohio. We pay attention but we’ve been so focused on what we’ve had to do on this side. We’ve just had to take care of business. Now we might be able to look a little bit.”
Palmer said that it doesn’t matter too much in terms of who NIU will play, but admits that he wouldn’t mind taking on Ohio in Detroit, despite the fact that NIU beat Temple 31-17 in DeKalb on Oct. 9.
“I watched the Ohio and Temple game and I was rooting for Ohio,” Palmer said. “It’s hard to beat a team twice.”