Huskies find themselves among nation’s top teams

By Thom Gippert

At the beginning of the year, the NIU football team went looking for nation-wide recognition. This past week the Huskies were given a double dose.

While a bowl game is out of picture for this year, NIU received some of that nation-wide attention by garnering votes in both the Associated Press and United Press International polls.

In the AP poll, the Huskies were in the group “others receiving votes” while being sandwiched between Oklahoma and Georgia. The Huskies received two votes, good for 34th overall.

According to the UPI poll, NIU made the Top 30 by once again placing in the “others receiving votes” category. Other teams on that list were Arizona State, Duke, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan State, Penn State, South Carolina and Syracuse.

Sportswriters comprise the AP vote, while college football coaches vote in the UPI poll.

NIU head coach Jerry Pettibone stated late in the season that he felt the Huskies were one of the top 36 teams in the country. The fifth-year mentor was pleased that his team had broken that barrier, at least in the polls.

“It felt great seeing that. It felt good to see Northern Illinois there and for us to get the national recognition, which means all the people across the country can read that,” Pettibone said of his 9-2 Huskie team.

The last time NIU made the football poll was back in 1984 with the Mid-American Conference champions. That team finished No. 30 in the final Associated Press poll.

Pettibone also said he expects NIU to receive even more votes in the UPI poll this week.

In other Huskie football news, junior quarterback Stacey Robinson remains as one of the Top 10 rushers in the nation. Robinson ranks sixth in overall rushing with 1,443 yards on 223 carries, which comes out to 6.5 yards per carry and 131 yards per game.

Robinson will be the nation’s leading rushing QB unless Air Force quarterback Dee Dowis rushes for more than 244 yards in the Falcons’ final game against Hawaii. Going into the Hawaii game, Dowis, a wishbone quarterback as well, has rushed for 1,199 yard on 156 carries.

Robinson also owns the sixth-best single-game rushing mark in the country this year with his 281 yards against Cincinnati in NIU’s season finale. Indiana’s Anthony Thompson holds the top slot by rushing for 377 yards in a single game this season.

NIU linebacker Ron Delisi finished his career being fourth on the all-time tackling list with 437 career tackles. Delisi finished this season with 133 tackles to make that three straight years of 100-plus tackles.