Huskies get ready for CMU

DeKALB -- Saturday's 30-23 victory over Ohio University served as a wake up call for NIU.

After defeating three BCS programs in the non-conference portion of the 2003 schedule, the Huskies started to bask in the national spotlight. NIU might have basked a little too much and came out of the gate slow to start the MAC season last week.

With Central Michigan up next Saturday, the Huskies hope a repeat is not in store.

"Coming off those three big wins, we were kind've high on ourselves," said senior middle linebacker Nick Duffy. "We need to realize that we are in the MAC now. This is the only thing that matters. We have to start playing well."

NIU heads to Mount Pleasant as the highest ranked team ever to play a game at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. The Huskies are ranked No. 16 by the Associated Press and No. 18 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll.

On paper, NIU has a big advantage over the Chippewas, but CMU has a big grudge against the Huskies dating back to 1998.

NIU broke its 23-game losing skid back in 1998 at Homecoming at Huskie Stadium, defeating Central MIchigan 16-6. The next year the Huskies defeated the Chippewas at Kelly/Shorts Stadium on their homecoming game, squeaking out a 31-27 victory.

However, the biggest victory in the Huskies' five-game winning streak over CMU came on the road back in 2001. The Chippewas held a 24-7 lead at halftime, only to have Huskie defense hold CMU scoreless in the second half to take a 33-24 victory.

"It's a huge game for them," Duffy said. "They would love to get a win out of this."

When bugs attack: NIU had some unwanted visitors this week during practice. The asian lady beetles that have plagued the campus invaded Huskie Stadium, serving as a nusance for the Huskies.

Sam Hurd was bit twice in his eye, and David McDermott was bit about 18 times during practice on Tuesday.

"It's the worst," Hurd said. "They get in your vision. They bit my eye twice. I don't know how I caught the ball. It's a big distraction."

Injury report: The Huskies come into the game banged up and will have four players out.

Tight end Aaron Anderson is out due to a left shoulder sprain. Defensive end Quince Holman has a right shoulder sprain and defensive end Travis Moore is out with a left ankle sprain. Dan Sheldon is done for the season after having surgery Sunday on his left elbow.

Sophomore linebacker Javan Lee is doubtful for Saturday's game with a right leg hamstring strain.

Hard-nose running: CMU enters Saturday's game as the No. 2 ranked rushing team in the conference and No. 19 nationally with a 197.6 yards per game average.

The Chippewas boast the Nos. 2 and 3 running backs in the conference. Terrance Jackson is second with a 95.8 yards per game average, and Jerry Seymour is third with 93.8 yards a game. However, Seymour is out after suffering a leg injury, leaving Jackson to carry most of the load. The senior ran for 123 yards in the Chippewas' 23-3 loss to Bowling Green last week.

"Terrance is a punishing runner and that's his game," said CMU coach Mike DeBord. "He's a guy that's not going to out-run you. He's going to punish you."

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