Football fights for its piece of the pie against Maryland

By Chris Jurmann

Editor’s note: “From the bleachers …” will be a weekly column done every Wednesday by Chris Jurmann. Chris will write from his own observations. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Star Sports staff or any of its writers.

I’ll admit it. I didn’t come to Northern Illinois for the football. I didn’t come to NIU for any of the other sports either. I’d be willing to bet, other than the athletes, none of you came to NIU for it either.

While most people know what the Illini are up to this season, the most popular question I’ll get outside of campus is, “You guys are the Huskies, right?”

It’s enough to give you a complex. I feel like one of those short guys who works out and acts real tough because he feels like no one should push him around.

I get laughed at when I try to talk about sports with students from Indiana, Purdue and Illinois. When they bring up their Jon Beutjer, I start talking about Josh Haldi. When they mention how good Antwaan Randle El is, I respond with Justin McCareins.

Usually, before I get a few sentences in, they’ve already disregarded what I’m talking about.

I’ve really grown into NIU football over the years. When I first came here no one went to the games. I lived in Douglas Hall and didn’t even know when game day was until I heard the occasional canon blast.

Since then things have changed. Each year we’ve made our run, twice falling in a tie-breaker loss for the MAC West Championship.

This year will be different. You can definitely feel the buzz around campus.

Sure, it helps that this is the best Huskie team I’ve seen in my four years here. Sure, it helps we have Maryland, a top 15 and recognizable team, coming to DeKalb, Illinois. And you better believe it helps we have a legitimate superstar player. We’ve got a tailback on our side who is better than any player we’ll face this season.

It doesn’t matter that it took all these events for our school spirit to grow. What matters is that we’re here now.

I was at last season’s Bowling Green game and remember the madness. Seeing the stands full of people all with one goal: to cheer on the Huskies.

I look forward to building on that for this game, as we take down the Terrapins, who one ESPN analyst wrote would “scrimmage at Northern Illinois before going to Tallahassee [Florida State].”

I’ll tell you this, if Maryland believes this is a scrimmage, they have another thing coming.

In fact, I hope they do consider this game a scrimmage. I want us to take them by surprise and jump out to a big lead. I want to watch them regroup in the second half and still get outplayed.

I want to watch the highlights on SportsCenter of Haldi for 35 yards to Fleck, Sheldon returning one all the way and Turner strolling into the end zone and striking a Heisman pose (please Michael, will you do this for us?).

I may not have come to NIU for the football. But come Thursday night, there isn’t any place I’d rather be.