NIU football takes on Ohio Bobcats on road

By Danny Albers

Football will need to win a pair of games on the road — including one tonight — to stay in contention for its fifth-straight MAC West title.

The Huskies (8-2, 5-1 MAC) take on the Ohio Bobcats (5-5, 3-3 MAC) 7 p.m. today at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio.

The last time the Huskies played the Bobcats was Dec. 2, 2011, in the MAC Championship game in Detroit. The Huskies trailed late but stormed back to win 23-20.

The Huskies have won 41 of their last 42 games when holding their opponents to 24 points or less. The Bobcats are averaging 20.8 points per game, which ranks 11th in the MAC.

Ohio has two quarterbacks who may get playing time. Redshirt junior Derrius Vick is the projected starter, but there is always a chance redshirt sophomore JD Sprague, the Bobcats’ leader in passing yards, will make an appearance.

“I think they could use multiple quarterbacks,” said head coach Rod Carey. “I think that Vick is their guy, so I would expect them to go with him for the whole time.”

When starting, Vick has led the Bobcats to a 3-3 record. In the last game he threw for 118 yards in a 37-14 win over the Buffalo Bulls.

The Bobcats have played solid defense. They are giving up an average of 25.6 points per game, which ranks fifth in the MAC.

“Watching film, they look like they have a really good defense,” said redshirt sophomore quarterback Drew Hare. “I’m sure their offense is just a good, so I expect a pretty big game.”

If the Huskies want to win the game they will need to do it on the ground. The Huskies are 32-0 when rushing 45 or more times in a game since 2010.

That comes at a time when redshirt senior tailback Cameron Stingily is playing as well as he has been throughout his collegiate career. He scored two touchdowns last week, helping carry the Huskies to a 27-24 win in a huge game against the Toledo Rockets.

“I think [Stingily’s preseason injury] was a blessing in disguise,” Carey said. “Him missing all those bumps and bruises in fall camp and the first week, it made [him] pretty fresh right now. This time of the year, that’s pretty favorable for us.”

The Huskies control their own destiny in the MAC West. If they beat Ohio and the Western Michigan Broncos Nov. 28 they’ll find themselves in the MAC Championship game for the fifth season in a row.

“You just got to take it one game at a time,” said senior center Andrew Ness. “If you do that the whole season you’ll get to where you want to be.”