Ohio State gets back in action this weekend vs. Northern Illinois, which has been the most consistent program in the MAC for the past decade. We talked with an NIU beat writer to get his take.
The Ohio State Buckeyes get back in action Saturday against a rather unfamiliar foe. Northern Illinois hasn't tripped to Columbus since a 35-12 loss in 2006, a season in which the Buckeyes played for the national championship, which was two coaches ago for each team.
So what should OSU expect out of the Huskies? Team beat writer Jesse Severson of the Daily Chronicle's Huskie Wire in DeKalb lets us know.
1. Northern Illinois has had some great quarterbacks in its recent run of success, including current standout Drew Hare. What does he bring to the table?
Like the quarterbacks before him – Chandler Harnish and Heisman finalist Jordan Lynch – Hare is a dual-threat. Last season, he was second on the team in rushing yards (900) and so far this year, he's been slinging the ball all over the field. He's thrown for 360 and 358 yards in the two games this season, with six touchdowns and no interceptions. He's always been really efficient and this year has been no different. He's completed 78.1 percent of his passes.
2. What style of offense is Northern Illinois running and who are some of the other playmakers besides Hare?
The heart and soul of the offense is the rush attack – mostly with Hare running read options. However, this season there's been more passing, with transfer receiver Kenny Golladay second in the nation with 357 receiving yards – he had 213 in his debut against UNLV in week one. Also, slot receiver Tommylee Lewis
. He was an All-American in 2013 before a toe injury derailed all his progress. He injured his ankle against UNLV and didn't play last week. If he's healthy, he could be a difference maker for the Huskies
3. The defensive stats haven't been great for NIU so far; where has the team struggled most?
They certainly haven't been great on that side of the ball, and mostly with the pass defense. They have allowed a receiver to get 100 yards in both games this year and gave up a long touchdown on a third-and-long early against the season opener against UNLV.
4. What should we know about Rod Carey, just the latest in a string of successful coaches who have come through DeKalb?
Well, he's certainly racked up plenty of wins during his time and I guess a fun fact would be he has been involved with a game at Ohio Stadium twice – he was a member of the 1993 Indiana team and was a graduate assistant for Minnesota when they play there in 1998. For the record, the Buckeyes won both games.
5. This isn't your normal MAC team coming into Ohio Stadium in that the Huskies have experience on the big stage. Do they think that will help heading to the Horseshoe?
They've played in a big stage, but this will be the biggest stage for the players. While some played for the Orange Bowl team, which played in front of 72,000 fans, most of the bigger stadiums they've play in are around 50,000-60,000. It will be a new experience for them playing in a 100,000-plus stadium and a lot of it will come down whether they use it for fuel or if they are shaking in their cleats.