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NIU continues road warrior ways against Falcons

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Posted: Monday, November 7, 2011 9:53 pm

From here on out, NIU football's destiny will lie in its own hands, with its latest matchup against Bowling Green State today.

The Huskies (6-3, 4-1 MAC) take on the Falcons (4-5, 2-3 MAC) in hopes of returning back to MAC Championship game in less than a month.

But NIU head coach Dave Doeren is keeping the team focused on one game at a time.

"I'm really not worried about [looking ahead to the MAC Championship]," Doeren said. "We have to win at Bowling Green, then we'll come home and talk about the rest."

The Falcons have a team that could upset the Huskies if they're not careful. Freshman running back Anthon Samuel returns from not playing last week against Kent State. Samuel has 704 yards on the ground this season and four touchdowns.

"I think he's a very quick running back," said NIU linebacker Michael Santacaterina. "His jump cuts are very nice. He's a good player, and they have a real good line, so we'll have to prepare for him just like any other running back we've faced all year."

The Huskies' offense will have to step up tonight, as the Bowling Green defense has some playmakers of its own.

Despite ranking eighth in total defense, the Falcons have a threat up front in defensive tackle Chris Jones, who has seven sacks on the year.

"There are a lot of concerns [with Bowling Green's defense]," Doeren said. "They have the best defensive tackle in our league, who leads our conference in sacks. They've got a great linebacker [in Dwayne Woods]."

The NIU offense continued to roll last week against Toledo, lighting up the scoreboard for 63 points. The Falcons' defense held seven of their nine opponents to under 30 points. The only two teams to do that against the Falcons have been West Virginia and Western Michigan.

"We've got to play a heck of a lot better defensively," Doeren said. "We're playing against a defense that hasn't allowed anyone to score 30 points more than twice. We know we need to up our game there."

The Huskies offense' will continue to work at a fast pace, which means less time for the defense to sit on the sidelines to rest up. NIU is ranked first in the MAC this season in total offense, but are last in time of possession. But the defense encourages the offense to stay at their pace and to keep putting up points.

"Sometimes, it's difficult for them to be on the field," said NIU starting center Scott Wedige. "But they say do your thing; as long as you score points and execute what you do, everything will work out in the end."

Bowling Green holds a 10-6 series leads over the Huskies, including 7-1 when the two teams play at Doyt Perry Stadium.

NIU knows there are letdowns that happen in college football, but it isn't thinking about being upset after its dramatic win last week over Toledo.

"Our guys know what they need to do; obviously we need to do it now," Doeren said. "We've addressed the pitfalls of what could be ahead of us and now we have to be mature enough to handle them."

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