Nitz: We’ll both be at Huskie Stadium today for the facility’s biggest nonconference game since 2003. It will be the first time in nine years that Northern Illinois will host a team from a BCS conference. In 2003, the Huskies beat Maryland and Iowa State in DeKalb. The Jayhawks might be the worst team in the Big 12, but it still is a great opportunity to showcase the program in front of what could very well be a sellout crowd.
How big of a game is this for NIU?
Jacobson: I think this game is important on multiple levels for the Huskies. This is a matchup the athletic department wants to sell out. NIU coach Dave Doeren mentioned in this week’s news conference that he’d like the students to show up in full force today.
In terms of the season, it’d be a huge boost for the Huskies to come out of their nonconference schedule with a 3-1 record and move into Mid-American Conference play on a three-game winning streak. They let one slip away against Iowa, but I think NIU would be satisfied with a 3-1 mark in a challenging first four games.
You mentioned that Kansas might be the worst team in the Big 12, but do the Huskies really deserve to be 10-point favorites?
Nitz: The line actually has dropped to nine points in NIU’s favor, but I still think that’s a big spread. I believe the Huskies will be able to pull out a victory, but at the same time, I could see it going either way. The Jayhawks’ running game has been solid so far this season, and NIU has had trouble against the run, even though a lot of schools aren’t going to fare well against Army’s triple option. Doeren admitted his team didn’t tackle well during the win in West Point.
How do you see this contest playing out?
Jacobson: I’m putting the Huskies on upset alert. NIU hasn’t beaten a BCS team since 2010 and Doeren’s statement wins to this point have come against Ohio and Arkansas State.
Kansas has a good running game, and you’ve got to think that the Jayhawks are getting more comfortable with each game in Charlie Weis’ system. They won’t be intimidated coming into Huskie Stadium after annually playing on the road against the likes of Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech, and Kansas beat NIU, 45-42, last year.
I think a lot of it will come down to turnovers. Can Jordan Lynch protect the ball against an opportunistic Kansas defense? If so, the Huskies have a good chance to keep their Huskie Stadium winning streak in tact.