Northern Illinois Does Not Rely on Magic Dust

Northern Illinois (3-0) - winners of its last 26 regular season contests - has had one of the nation's most successful programs the last five years and will bring a nation's best 17-game road winning streak to Fayetteville on Saturday to face Arkansas (2-1).

Northern Illinois head football coach Rod Carey has a very simple philosophy when it comes to the continued success of his football program.

That success includes 26 straight regular season wins, a nation’s best 17-game road win streak and nation’s longest 27-game home winning streak and 49 wins over the last four-plus years with 11 wins in each of the past four campaigns."

There’s also six straight bowl trips – including an Orange Bowl game in 2013 which vaulted graduated quarterback Jordan Lynch into a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate.

“To me, to meet expectations takes daily work ethic,” Carey said on Monday’s MAC teleconference. “Our guys are working and we have to continue to push to work.

“There is an old saying, success isn’t owned, it is rented and the rent is due every day,” Carey added.

The Huskies have certainly been getting the check in on time with the latest installment being put down Saturday night when they won at UNLV 48-34.

That means Northern Illinois (3-0) will be undefeated headed into its game at Arkansas (2-1) Saturday night at 6 p.m. that will be televised by ESPNU.

Toledo head coach Matt Campbell – a fellow WAC member - stressed just how good a football team the Huskies are.

“I just think that they believe in who they are, they really do a great job in their execution on both sides of the ball and in the special teams game,” Campbell said. “I think they're a really well-coached football team. And I think when that culture begins and it's created within a program, it just travels with you. Whether you're playing at home or playing on the road.”

Former Arkansas assistant coach Paul Haynes - now the head coach at WAC school Kent State - doesn’t believe Northern Illinois will be rattled by an SEC atmosphere.

The Huskies have road wins at Iowa, Purdue and Northwestern during the current streak, which began under former head coach Dave Doreen – a former assistant under Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema at Wisconsin.

“I think they're going to handle it well, just because of the venues that they've been in,” Haynes said. “Arkansas is a special place, and it'll be loud and it'll be rocking like crazy, but they've been in some big venues and tackled them, also, too. But it is going to be an electric place for them to go to.”

The Huskies are Dave Doeren left for North Carolina State.

“They're a very good football team,” Haynes said. “That's the thing about them. They have great talent. They're tough, and that starts from the top. Their head coach is a tough guy. And they're very good on fundamentals. The thing that they don't do is, they don't beat themselves. Playing them, you're going to have to earn everything that you get just because they're so fundamentally sound.”

Carey claims the road winning streak – now in its third season – isn’t about magic.

“Every team is so different from the next that I think there is probably very little true threads in that because that crosses quite a few years here,” Carey said. “I think this team travels well and they understand what they have to do to get themselves ready to be on the road.

“Obviously we are going down to a tough environment to play – it is going to be loud, Arkansas has a great fan base and obviously Coach Bielema has them going right now and it was a big win last week for them,” Carey added.

“I think we just have to do like we have done, get together and prepare and know that we are going to have to handle a bunch of adversity in this game from the crowd to everything.

“I don’t know that there is some magical dust that we wave on our heads when we go on the road, it’s just that you kind of take it one day at a time.”

Northern Illinois is playing seven road games for the second straight season.

“Life for MAC teams, well, you play on the road,” Carey said. “Last year we had seven, this year we have seven again. I think confidence comes from repetition whether that is football and practice or going on the road. We have a lot of repetition for going on the road. I think that probably breeds some of the confidence, but I think it probably comes down to execution and making plays.”

Northern Illinois led UNLV by 23 in the third quarter before coughing up that lead, steadying itself and putting the Runnin’ Rebels away at the end.

“It was a good game obviously,” Carey said. “Obviously we expected a four-quarter game and we got one from UNLV. Give Coach (Bobby) Hauck and his staff a lot of credit. They are a talented team all across the board from the kicking game to offense and defense.

“We felt it was going to be a four-quarter game and we obviously had a lead and they fought all the way back and tied it up. We were fortunate enough to be able to take control at the end there. Any time you have got to travel that far and come away with a win, you are happy with it so I give our guys all the credit for handling everything that goes into it and everything that goes into playing out there.

“I also give UNLV a ton of credit, too, and it was just an overall good college football game with kids making plays,” Carey continued.

The game will feature two of the nation’s top rushing teams with Arkansas third nationally at 362 yards rushing per game and Northern Illinois sixth at 325.

Alex Collins is seventh nationally rushing with 411 yards while Jonathan Williams is 22nd with 322.

“You have to run the ball,” Carey said. “I don’t care if you are a spread, no huddle or if you are a two-back huddle team. Running the ball is the key in football. If you can’t run the football, you are usually not winning the battle up front and if you are not winning the battle up front, you are not winning the game.

“That goes true on the other side, you have got to stop the run and I know Arkansas – just getting into it here – obviously has a very vaunted rushing attack with what they did last week at Texas Tech. They obviously won the battle up front.”

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