Huskies face off against No. 1 Ohio State


Redshirt senior cornerback Paris Logan returns a kick in the game against Murray State on Saturday at Huskie Stadium. Logan picked up six tackles and a key interception in the game. He now has five interceptions in his career.

By Chris Loggins

After a 31-point win over Murray State last week gave football a 2-0 start to the season, the team will look to remain undefeated as it takes on No. 1 Ohio State (2-0) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Ohio Stadium on ABC/ESPN2.

Ohio State is also 2-0 heading into week three after ending last week with a 38-0 blowout victory over Hawaii. The Buckeyes came into this season as the defending national champions. In its first two games, the team outscored its opponents 80-24.

“They are a good football team,” said NIU head coach Rod Carey. “I think there’s been enough written about them and said about them. They’re exactly what you expect an Ohio State team to be: They’re big, they’re physical, they’re strong, they’re well coached, they don’t beat themselves and they’re expecting to win.

“I think that when you have those things in your program, I think that’s a mark of a good program. I like to think we have a lot of those things in our program too. I think it’ll be a fun challenge for our guys, one I know they’re looking forward to it.”

The Huskies are outscoring opponents 95-56 thus far and could become a ranked team with a victory over Ohio State.

In his first two games as a Huskie, junior wide receiver Kenny Golladay has become an often-targeted receiver for junior quarterback Drew Hare. Coming into his third week, Golladay has reached totals of 17 catches, 357 yards and two touchdowns.

“Just looking at the guy and watching him run deep routes you knew he was going to be something when he got the ball in his hands,” Hare said. “So far, so good.”

Through two games, Hare has completed 78 percent of his passes, throwing for 718 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. Though he has finished games with big numbers, the Huskies have taken time to get going early in games — a possible concern going up against the number-one one team in the nation.

Preparing for better starts to games can come down to even the little things, Hare said.

“We’ve been getting ready for fights,” Hare said. “How you come out for that is telling how you’re going to come out in a game, so I feel as we get back to it, we really need to emphasize that.”

Much of getting off to better starts comes in how you practice, Carey said.

“We have to change up with how our arrangement of practice is and maybe move a drill that you did later up earlier or early later. Those things just to kind of snap, you know, re-emphasize what we’re trying to do in games and try to snap them in.”

Senior wide receiver Braxton Miller has been used at nearly every position for the Buckeyes offense, making him a tough matchup for opposing teams. Standing at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Miller has been used as a receiver, running back and quarterback for the Buckeyes’ offense.

“You’re going to account for a guy like that that they use lined up out wide, lined up in the slot, lined up in the backfield, lined up at quarterback,” Carey said. “You’re going to account and going to know what he’s doing. But it’s not like because they move him around so much. It’s not like you tilt your entire game plan to him. You just can’t do that one because it’s too many positions. They have other weapons on offense too.”

NIU has won five of its last eight games against the Big Ten and has only gone up against Ohio State once in its history. That game ended in a win for Ohio State, who defeated the Huskies 35-12.

The Huskies can widely be considered an underdog in this game — something that doesn’t happen too often for the team.

“I really don’t focus on stuff like that — like what people say on the outside,” said senior cornerback Paris Logan. “Like coach Carey said, the only people that matter are the people that are playing on the team. We know the expectations that we have set for ourselves. I think we just got to block that stuff out, and you’re always going to have doubters, so just focus on what you do.”

The winner of the game will move to 3-0 on the year and has a chance to shake up the nation’s rankings should the Huskies win.

“We haven’t played Ohio State yet, so I’m going off of what we played and what we see on film,” Carey said. “So there’s always the little you don’t quite know yet until you see it live and in person. But I would say this is right there with as good a team as we played.”