Huskies head to Kansas for first time in 28 years

By Tony Osborne

After a triumphant week one victory over Army (0-1), NIU football (1-0) will head to Lawrence, Kan. to face off against the Jayhawks (1-0) Saturday for the first time in 28 years.

“It’s a good opportunity for our team to go to Lawrence and play the Jayhawks,” said Huskie head coach Dave Doeren. “It’s a place where I’ve spent four years of my coaching career and several players grew up.”

The last time NIU and Kansas met on the field in 1983, the Huskies came out on top 37-34. Saturday’s game may not be much different in the final score. Both teams feature a balanced offense with good running and passing assets. Kansas’ passing game didn’t show against McNeese State in week one, where Kansas ran the ball 55 out of 65 total plays on offense.

Look for NIU’s defense to be more of a test for the Jayhawks than McNeese State.

NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish will head to Lawrence with week one MAC West Player of the Week honors. The redshirt senior tallied five touchdowns through the air and one on the ground.

“I think he executed the game plan extremely well,” Doeren said.

NIU defensive end Alan Baxter is relishing at the opportunity to play on the road at a Big 12 venue.

“Big-time stage, thousands of fans out there – that’s why we play college football,” Baxter said.

That sort of mental setting is what could help some of the younger NIU players get over the hype of playing a Big 12 school early in their career.

The Huskies defense will have to keep its eyes peeled on Jayhawks wide receiver JaCorey Shepherd, who is coming off a week one performance of three catches for 107 yards with two touchdowns.

The Jayhawks are also coming off of a win in which they ran away from McNeese State with 301 yards on the ground.

Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb will be under center for the Jayhawks, and is fresh off throwing for 146 yards with three touchdown passes.

The Jayhawks running game will feature more of a “running by committee” approach again this week.

It’s expected that Kansas will continue to use seven different players in its backfield.

If anyone understands having to go against several strong running backs, it’s NIU’s defense.

Every day in practice, the Huskies defense works against a strong running back core, including Jasmin Hopkins, Jamal Womble and Akeem Daniels.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Doeren said. “But when the clock starts, it will be just another game for our guys and me.”