The Northern Illinois Huskies used their dominating defense to bounce back last year, finishing the year 8-5 (6-2 MAC) and participating in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit. But what should you know about the 2018 Huskies? Well...here’s a handy guide.
- 8-5 (6-2 MAC)
- Bowl Game: Quick Lane Bowl (Lost 36-14 to the Duke Blue Devils)
- Offensive stats: 28.9 points per game, 377.8 yards per game (199.9 passing, 177.9 rushing)
- Defensive stats: 22 points per game, 338.5 yards per game (218.5 passing, 120 rushing)
Stadium: Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium
- Built: 1965. Expanded in 1982, 1995, and 2016
- Capacity: 24,000
- Surface: artificial FieldTurf
- Other: Huskie Stadium has hosted the Illinois High School Football Playoffs on odd years since 2013 and will do so next year as well.
2018 NIU Huskies Schedule
|9/1||@ Iowa Hawkeyes||2:30||B1G Network|
|9/8||Utah Utes||6:30||ESPN News|
|9/22||@ Florida State Seminoles||TBD||TBD|
|9/29||@ EMU Eagles||5:00||ESPN+|
|10/6||@ Ball State Cardinals||TBD||TBD|
|10/27||@ BYU Cougars||TBD||TBD|
|11/1||@ Akron Zips||6:00||TBD|
|11/20||@ WMU Broncos||6:00||TBD|
Head Coach: Rod Carey (6th Season)
- Record: 44-24 (32-8 MAC)
- Three MAC West titles (2013-2015), One MAC Championship (2014)
- Alma Mater: Indiana
Coordinators: Jeff Knowles (Defense/LB Coach) & Mike Uremovich (Offense/Asst. Head Coach/TE & FB Coach)
Knowles, who takes over for Kevin Kane (now at SMU) at defensive coordinator, is now in his second season with NIU. Last season he was the Huskies’ linebackers coach and before that he was at NC State from 2014-16 as a Defensive Quality Control coach.
Uremovich was the running backs coach at NIU in 2012 before following Dave Doeren to NC State where he served as offensive line coach from 2013-2015. In 2016, Uremovich made his way back to DeKalb where he has been assistant head coach and offensive coordinator ever since.
Sutton Smith, DE, Junior
Smith, a 6-1 defensive end, had one hell of a season last year - leading the nation in tackles for loss and sacks. In 2017 he amassed 63 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, eight QB hurries, and forced and recovered three fumbles. This year he’s added 20 pounds of muscle and will most likely continue to wreak havoc in the MAC.
Max Scharping, OT, Senior
Scharping is one of the best offensive tackles in the FBS. In 425 snaps last season he allowed just five quarterback pressures and had the highest pass-blocking efficiency (99.2) in the country...it’s no wonder he’s sitting on multiple award watch lists and just clocked in at #4 on our list of the top-25 players in the MAC.
Marcus Childers, QB, Sophomore
The offense rises and falls with Childers, who leads the Huskies offense. Last season he won Freshman of the Year in the MAC by completing 57% of his passes and throwing for 1674 yards, 16 TDs, and just five interceptions. He can also make plays happen with his legs, as he ran for an additional 473 yards and five scores.
Huskies in the NFL/CFL
- Chad Bebee, WR, Minnesota Vikings
- Christian Blake, WR, Atlanta Falcons
- Joel Bouagnon, RB, Green Bay Packers
- Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions
- Tommylee Lewis, WR, New Orleans Saints
- Rashaan Melvin, CB, Oakland Raiders
- Tim Semisch, TE, Tennessee Titans
- Jimmie Ward, CB/S, San Francisco 49ers
- Ken Bishop, DL, Toronto Argonauts
- Juwan Brescacin, WR, Calgary Stampeders
- Courtney Stephen, DB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Huskies have a hellish non-conference schedule that will be tough to navigate through. The away games at Iowa, Florida State, and BYU are not ideal. However, with the Iowa Hawkeyes suspending four players for the season opener, BYU struggling last year, and Utah having to travel to DeKalb...who knows what NIU could pull off.
The defense lost their top three tacklers (all linebackers) but get Kyle Pugh back and reigning superstar Sutton Smith looks like he could do be even bigger things this season.
Offensively there shouldn’t be any doubt about who’s quarterbacking NIU...but Childers will need to stay healthy and will be called on to do more this season, as the Huskies’ rushing attack is still unproven after Jordan Huff graduated and left a large vacancy.
The Huskies have a very manageable MAC schedule and, even though they have to play the Ohio Bobcats and Toledo Rockets (the two other contenders for the MAC Championship), both games are at Huskie Stadium and that’s a huge advantage.
I wouldn’t expect much from their non-conference schedule but a 6-2 or 7-1 MAC record seems very doable. NIU should have a solid 7- or 8-win season and be able to get back to a bowl game.