News conference notes: Huskies finally healthy

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After missing six starters in Saturday's 63-0 win over Massachusetts, Northern Illinois finally looks like its healthy heading into Wednesday's game against Toledo.

Cornerback Rashaan Melvin, safeties Jimmie Ward and Dechane Durante, linebacker Victor Jacques, running back Leighton Settle and wide receiver Perez Ashford didn't play in the victory.

At Tuesday's news conference, NIU head coach Dave Doeren said his team is as healthy as its been since the season opener against Iowa. Every player who missed the UMass game, with the exception of Settle, practiced Wednesday.

"Our guys needed a little time," Doeren said. "We were beat up. I know it didn't look like it against UMass, but we were."

Other notes from Thursday's news conference:

• Wednesday's game, which will basically decide the Mid-American Conference West Division title, is also NIU's final home game, meaning it's senior night. Doeren encouraged Huskie fans to head out to Huskie Stadium for the contest, which kicks off at 8 p.m.

"We would love for our fans, students, administrators, faculty, you name it, to come support us," he said. "And not just because it's a big game, but there's kids on this team that have been here for four years that are graduating from this university, they averaged 10 wins a season almost. That's an impressive accomplishment, and I'd love for them to be sent out with a sellout crowd."

• A win over the Rockets would give NIU its third straight MAC West title. Since the MAC went to divisions in 1997, no school has won the West three straight seasons.

"You mark, at least we do, success by winning your side of the division. To say that we have done that three years in a row is a big deal," Doeren said. "Whether we can do it or not, we'll find out in a week, but I know that's something that we strive for."

— Steve Nitz,, @SNitz_DDC on Twitter


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Will NIU football win the MAC this season?