Football takes win streak into Buffalo

By Thomas Hiley

Football (6-3, 4-1 MAC) will look to continue its road streak when it goes up against Buffalo (5-4, 3-2 MAC) in another weekday game Wednesday.

The Huskies have a new starting quarterback in redshirt freshman Ryan Graham after losing Drew Hare for the rest of the season due to a ruptured achilles he suffered in a game against Toledo (7-1, MAC 4-1) last week. Graham led a Huskies comeback in the game, throwing for 128 yards and a touchdown to give NIU a 32-27 win.

“We won’t run the offense any different,” said head coach Rod Carey. “His skill sets match what we like to do. Ryan certainly has a good arm and good accuracy. There are differences, but the offense won’t change.”

Buffalo is on a three-game winning streak and is holding opponents to only 19.3 points. The Bulls’ defense is led by its linebackers, including junior Brandon Berry and seniors Nick Gilbo and Okezie Alozie. The three are the leading tacklers on the team and have combined for 28.5 tackles-for-loss and 9.5 sacks on the season.

Carey said he knows Buffalo is a talented and well-coached team from knowing head coach Lance Leipold for quite some time, and has high praise for the team.

“They have a really good front four,” Carey said. “I think that’s where it starts when you play an even front like they do. Their linebackers are active and very well coached, you can tell that. They really do a nice job of being where they’re supposed to be.”

The Huskies are ranked second in the MAC West behind Western Michigan, who it will face off against following its game against Buffalo. NIU has beaten the Bulls six straight times dating back to 2000.

There are three games left in the regular season, and the Huskies can finish 9-3 if they win all of them. It will mark the first time they have finished a regular season with less than 10 wins since the 2011-12 season when they finished 9-3.