Football looks to go 4-0

By Frank Gogola

DeKalb | Football (3-0) will have an opportunity to go 4-0 when it closes out its 2013 non-conference schedule against the Purdue Boilermakers (1-3) at 11 a.m. Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind.

The Huskies will look to defeat two Big Ten teams in the same season for the first time in school history.

They will also have the chance to close out their non-conference schedule undefeated for the first time since they went 4-0 in 2003.

NIU will put its 10-game road winning streak on the line. It is the second-longest road winning streak in the FBS and the Huskies will be searching for their second dog-bone victory — a victory over an automatic qualifying BCS team — this season.

To earn the victory, not only will the Huskies have to go into the hostile territory of Ross-Ade Stadium, but they will have to deal with a hungry Purdue team on its homecoming weekend.

“Looking forward to Purdue, it’s a fine football team,” said head coach Rod Carey in a news release. “It’s a Big Ten team at [its] place on Homecoming. It’s going to present every bit of a challenge that you want in a football game. We’re going to have to come out and play well to give ourselves an opportunity in the fourth quarter and be where we want to be.”

The Huskies have been tested in their first three games but will have a different animal in Purdue. The Boilermakers stand at 1-3 but are much better than what their record shows.

“I don’t believe in that with these guys,” Carey said in a news release. “They could easily be 3-1 too or even 4-0. I mean, they’re right there. Things have kind of happened in the second half that kind of got away from them here and there….”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Huskies will look to take away the Boilermakers’ ground game, which has averaged only 70.5 rushing yards per game (116 out of 123 FBS teams). Doing so will make Purdue’s passing attack, which has not been much better (102 out of 123 FBS teams), more vulnerable.

“We have to stop the run first,” said senior safety Jimmie Ward. “Make them one dimensional and force them to pass and I think we’ll have a good day on defense. … I feel like their quarterback is kind of similar to the Iowa quarterback; I feel like if we blitz him and mix up our coverage in the defense … we’ll have him confused and have the advantage.”

The key on offense for the Huskies will be to get off to a quick start. If they don’t, they may find themselves in a hole that’s too big to climb out of.

“…We haven’t started quick one game this year. We have to fix that,” Carey said in a news release. “We have to get out to a fast start. And it’s a great challenge this week, going against a team that has only given up 14 points in the first quarter. It’s a great challenge for us.”