Created:Tuesday, September 17, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT

Carey has high praise for EIU


Northern Illinois football coach Rod Carey said Eastern Illinois will be the best team the Huskies have played to this point in the season.

It’s pretty high praise considering NIU has played a Big Ten team in Iowa. The Huskies and Panthers kick off at 6 p.m. Saturday at Huskie Stadium.

“No disrespect to anybody we’ve played so far, but this is probably the best football team we’ve played to date,” Carey said. “And it’s going to be a real challenge for us. Obviously, we’re happy to have them at home, and it’s good to be home at Huskie Stadium for the first time this year.”

Eastern Illinois is 3-0 and already has one win over an FBS opponent. The Panthers defeated San Diego State, 40-19, in Week 1.

“I don’t care about labels,” Carey said. “... All I know is what I see on tape. I can tell you with our players, Eastern Illinois has our full attention.”

Huskies, Boilermakers on ESPN2: NIU’s game at Purdue on Sept. 28 will be aired on ESPN2. Kickoff is 11 a.m.

Fortunate Rockets: Toledo caught a break on the injury front.

Senior quarterback Terrance Owens left Saturday’s win over Eastern Washington with a knee injury, and was carted off the field.

However, it’s only a sprained knee, according to Toledo coach Matt Campbell.

Campbell said Owens, who has completed 55.6 percent of his passes for 437 yards, a touchdown and four interceptions this season, is questionable for this week’s game at Central Michigan.

“He was able to get out, move around on it [Sunday] a little bit,” Campbell said. “We’ll kind of re-evaluate his status, at least for this week, probably about Wednesday.”

If Owens can’t go, the Rockets will turn to a freshman Logan Woodside. He replaced Owens on Saturday, and completed 14 of his 24 passing attempts for 185 yards and a touchdown. Woodside didn’t throw an interception.

“He did a great job,” Campbell said. “He came in and really settled into the football game really well.”

Broncos fall to 0-3, tough slate continues this week: Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck still is searching for that coveted first win.

Fleck’s Broncos lost to Northwestern, which is ranked No. 18 in The Associated Press’ poll after a 38-17 win over the Broncos on Saturday evening.

With a tough schedule, Fleck said his team has played hard, with the exception of the first half of a Week 2 loss to Nicholls State.

The Broncos’ gauntlet of a schedule continues this week at Kinnick Stadium, where they will take on Iowa. Fleck isn’t complaining about the tough slate.

“I think it’s one of the hardest nonconference schedules you can have in the country, as far as three out of four being Big Ten schools,” Fleck said. “I love the challenge, the fact that we get to play on the Big Ten Network and play Big Ten teams I think it’s wonderful for our kids.”

Will NIU football win the MAC this season?