Chicago Colleges: 2012 season

NIU defense overshadowed, still elite

December, 28, 2012
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch and his eye-popping numbers have stolen the spotlight here, but don’t sleep on the Huskies’ defense -- Florida State certainly isn’t.

NIU is ranked No. 18 in the country in scoring defense, No. 34 in total defense, No. 11 in sacks and No. 9 in tackles for loss. It’s a major improvement from just a year ago, when the program was No. 90 in the country in scoring defense, allowing 31.08 points per game. That progress has been overshadowed by Lynch, who is easily the face of the program, but the unheralded defense has no problem with who is getting the ink as long as the team keeps winning. The Huskies have yet to face an offense, though, as fast and talented as Florida State's.

[+] EnlargeTyrone Clark
AP Photo/ Matt QuinnanLinebacker Tyrone Clark is part of an unheralded NIU defense.
“I think our players really don't care, honestly, where that credit goes or who gets it,” said NIU defensive coordinator Jay Niemann. “One thing about Jordan Lynch, he's as humble and as gracious a person as you're going to find. … He's just one of the guys. He'd be just as close with the defensive players as he is the offensive players, so I don't think the issue of who's getting credit or any of those things is a factor with our team. They just want to win, they want to compete, they want to do well, and however we get that done, whether it's winning 40-39, or whether it's winning 7-3, at the end of the day a win is a win, so that's what they've been about.”

NIU players and coaches have agreed that while the Huskies’ defense has faced one or two elite players on each opponent they have faced, the defense has yet to see an entire team comprised entirely of those high-caliber players.

“The difference between them and the MAC, they have talent at each skill position,” said linebacker Tyrone Clark. “I’m not saying the MAC does not, but they are very skilled in each area. So one team might have one running back you have to stop, or one wide receiver you have to stop, but with them as we continue to watch film, they are a complete team. We have our work cut out for us, but we’re built for it."

The improvements in FSU’s offense -- particularly in the running game -- have paralleled that of NIU’s defense. The Noles are No. 14 in the country in scoring offense, averaging just under 40 points per game, and they’re averaging 466 yards per game. Much like NIU's defense, Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel has been overshadowed a bit by Lynch. Manuel said he has watched more film on NIU than he has any other opponent this season, simply because he’s had the time to.

“They have good players, they have good speed when you watch on film, but not anything dissimilar to the guys we’ve played before,” Manuel said. “They have a good team, so I think the biggest thing for us is to worry about our offense and focus on that and we’ll be fine.”

Try telling these Huskies they don't belong

December, 3, 2012
Anthony WellsAndrew Weber/US Presswire

Northern Illinois, the beneficiary of a BCS rule designed to allow access for schools from non-automatic qualifying conferences, caused much consternation by its selection to the Discover Orange Bowl. But try telling the Huskies they don't belong.

Read the story here.

NIU coach Doeren makes name for himself

November, 13, 2012
Dave DoerenMike DiNovo/US PresswireDave Doeren has guided Northern Illinois to becoming one of the nation's most successful programs over the past two seasons.

When Northern Illinois athletic director Jeff Compher hired Dave Doeren as football coach in December 2010, Compher knew he’d likely be undertaking another coaching search in the not-too-distant future.

It’s the cruel truth that comes with being in the Mid-American Conference. Once you have a quality football coach, it’s only a matter of time before a BCS program snatches that coach away.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly were once in the MAC. Every MAC Coach of the Year from 2007-2010 -- Turner Gill, Brady Hoke, Al Golden, Mike Haywood -- departed for more high-profile jobs. Even Compher’s hire of Doeren was the result of Jerry Kill leaving the Huskies for Minnesota after three consecutive bowl berths.

[+] EnlargeDave Doeren
Andrew Weber/US PresswireDave Doeren led Northern Illinois to a MAC championship in his first season as coach.
And now, in Doeren’s second season at Northern Illinois, Compher appears bound to deal with that reality sooner than later.

As the Huskies head into Wednesday’s MAC matchup with Toledo at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN2, Doeren has guided them to becoming one of the nation’s most successful programs over the past two seasons. The Huskies own the country’s longest home winning streak at 20 games and the longest conference winning streak at 14 games. Northern Illinois, Alabama and Oregon are the only Football Bowl Subdivision programs to win 18 of their last 19 games.

“If you look at some of the best football programs in our conference, many major universities and conferences come chomping in the MAC,” said Compher, who became athletic director in June 2008. “That’s what we anticipate down the road. Whether or not that’s something this year or five years down the road, we always have to be prepared for that. We’re very happy with Dave. We want him to stay a long time.”

(Read full post)

Chantel Jennings and Michael Rothstein look ahead to the Wolverines' home game Saturday against the 24th-ranked Wildcats.

NIU's Bishop wins MAC defensive honor

November, 5, 2012
Northern Illinois junior defensive tackle Ken Bishop was named the MAC West Defensive Player of the Week on Monday.

Bishop had five tackles, including four solo ones, a tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery in the Huskies’ 63-0 win over Massachusetts on Saturday.

In the shutout, the Huskies held the Minutemen to 3.2 yards per play and 267 yards on 83 plays. Massachusetts was also limited to a 2.5-yard rushing average and a 4.1-yard passing average.

Northern Illinois has had a player win one of the MAC West Player of the Week awards in nine of 10 weeks this season. Six players, including four defensive players, have been honored this year. Defensive end Sean Progar won the award last week.

Northern Illinois (9-1, 6-0) faces No. 25 Toledo (8-0, 5-1) on Nov. 14 in DeKalb, Ill. The game will be televised on ESPN2 or ESPNU.

BCS: Oregon passes Irish for No. 3

November, 4, 2012
Alabama secured its hold at the top of the BCS standings a day after winning its biggest road test of the season.

Kansas State remained No. 2, while No. 3 Oregon passed No. 4 Notre Dame in the latest standings released Sunday night. All three contenders won on Saturday.

Read the entire story.

Irish up to No. 3 in BCS rankings

October, 28, 2012
Kansas State has pulled into a prime spot behind No. 1 Alabama in an open race spread out among four unbeaten teams.

With the second spot for the BCS National Championship game vacated by Florida after its loss to Georgia a day earlier, the Wildcats are the new No. 2 team in the BCS standings released Sunday.

Notre Dame moved from fifth up to No. 3, while high-scoring Oregon remained No. 4.

Read the entire story.

Notre Dame, Kansas State move up

October, 28, 2012
NEW YORK -- No. 3 Kansas State and No. 4 Notre Dame each moved up a spot in The Associated Press college football poll, setting up a final four of sorts for the last month of the regular season.

Alabama is No. 1 for the ninth straight week and it is unanimous. The Crimson Tide received all 60 first-place votes. Oregon is No. 2 for the sixth straight week.

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Everett Golson to start vs. Sooners

October, 23, 2012
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson will start in Saturday's showdown at Oklahoma after successfully undergoing post-concussion exercises Monday, Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said.

"It went very well," Kelly said Tuesday during his news conference. "He feels great, very confident. We wanted to do that more because he hadn't had really the opportunity to get out and run, and we didn't want to wait until Saturday where he's out there and we have some setbacks.

"So he's good, 100 percent, and he'll start for us against Oklahoma on Saturday."

Read the entire story.

Everett Golson expected to start

October, 21, 2012
Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson's return from a concussion officially should come early this week.

Coach Brian Kelly said during a teleconference Sunday that his starting quarterback will go through more exercises Monday to determine his readiness going into the week, with the expectation that he will start for the Fighting Irish when they Saturday night at Oklahoma.

Read the entire story.

Irish stay at No. 5 in AP poll

October, 21, 2012
Alabama has run its streak of weeks at No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll to eight, the longest stay atop the rankings by the Crimson Tide.

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Infamous fan at last NU-Nebraska tilt

October, 19, 2012
Northwestern Wildcats athletic director Jim Phillips isn’t one to bring attention to Chicago’s criminal past, but he can’t ignore the fact Al Capone attended the last meeting between the Wildcats and the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Evanston, Ill. on Oct. 3, 1931, three days prior to Capone going to trial on charges of tax evasion.

“I did not know about that until someone brought it to my attention,” Phillips said while laughing. “In Chicago’s history, there’s good and bad. We’re just excited to welcome Nebraska back to Ryan Field and Evanston.”

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K-State, Notre Dame move into top 5

October, 14, 2012
The top five in The Associated Press college football poll has been rearranged for a second straight week, with Florida, Kansas State and Notre Dame moving up in the rankings.

No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oregon hold the top two spots for a fourth straight week. The changes came behind them, where the Gators move up one spot to No. 3, and the fourth-ranked Wildcats and fifth-ranked Fighting Irish both jump two places.

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Everett Golson has mild concussion

October, 14, 2012
The helmet-to-helmet hit Notre Dame starting quarterback Everett Golson sustained late in Saturday's win resulted in a concussion, though it would seem to be a very mild one based on his coach's prognosis.

Coach Brian Kelly said during his Sunday teleconference that his quarterback was a bit symptomatic the day after Notre Dame's win against Stanford but will undergo more tests Monday and is expected to be cleared Tuesday.

Read the entire story.

Irish poised for bigger things

October, 14, 2012
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- This is how you become relevant again:

You win when you shouldn't.

You win in overtime and do it with a goal-line stand.

You win when your starting quarterback gets knocked out of the game.

You win when you fumble five times, losing three of them, and commit nine penalties.

You win when you trail at halftime and again late in the fourth quarter.

You win in the rain.

"I'm so excited," Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix said. "I'm ready to call my momma."

The seventh-ranked Fighting Irish remain undefeated and in the middle of the BCS championship conversation because they won the kind of game they used to lose. Their 20-13 win against Stanford was as pretty as Saturday's weather here -- dreary, overcast and rainy -- but artistry is sometimes overrated.

Read the entire column.