NIU gains national exposure

By Brian Wiencek

Everyone at Huskie Stadium was in awe of the way NIU manhandled the Golden Eagles on Saturday.

All 14,246 fans had no choice but to be impressed with the play of LeShon Johnson, Scott Crabtree, Raymond Roberts and numerous others.

However, there were more than just 14,246 fans watching the Huskies defeat Southern Mississippi 23-10. Thanks to SportsChannel America, approximately 15.2 million households in the United States were able to watch NIU showcase its talent.

Saturday’s game marked the first nationally televised Huskie game since 1990 when Northwestern defeated NIU 24-7 on ESPN. Excluding last Saturday’s game, NIU has been on national TV only three times since 1983, all of which were televised by ESPN.

In 1983, the Huskies defeated Cal State-Fullerton 20-13 in the California Bowl. The second national game came in 1987 when they defeated UNLV 34-31.

NIU has had great success in games that are televised. The Huskies currently hold a 3-1 record on national television (2-1 on ESPN) and a 3-3 record on SportsChannel Chicago.

Saturday’s game also marked NIU’s first nationally televised game on SportsChannel. Tom Dore, the play-by-play voice of the world champion Chicago Bulls, called the action Saturday for the Huskies and former Chicago Bear Shawn Gayle gave the color commentary.

It seemed as if NIU knew it was on national television. LeShon Johnson had his best game of the year with 26 rushes for 188 yards. Brian Steger also had the best game of his season as he kicked three field goals of 29, 39, and a career-high 47 yards.

National TV gave Scott Crabtree’s first Division I-A start at quarterback a little more spice. He went 9-for-25 for 139 yards and one touchdown to go along with his nine rushes for 30 yards. The entire defense finally received the credit it deserved as it gave up 340 yards of total offense.

SportsChannel will once again visit DeKalb on Nov. 21 for a live telecast when the Huskies take on the Rockets of Toledo for the last regular season game of the season. That game will be available to over two million subscribers in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa.

Also, Saturday’s Homecoming game will be replayed today at 9 a.m. on SportsChannel Chicago.