Journey back with me to September 26th, 2009.
It was a dark, strange time in America. "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" was on its way to the box office crown for the second straight week. The Black Eyed Peas had convinced us that tonight would indeed be a good, good night. And the number one show on television was ‘Dancing With The Stars,' who earlier that week dug up the corpses of Aaron Carter, Melissa Joan Hart and Donny Osmond to open the ninth season...forever stretching the boundaries of the word "star." Osmond won the show that year, giving the country a much-needed laugh in a time of great financial peril.
But an even darker and stranger event occurred on September 26th...one so damaging to the fabric of our society that we have forbidden such an episode from happening again...the Northern Illinois Huskies lost a home game.
A 34-31 loss to Idaho was the last time the Huskies have lost in DeKalb. It was the fourth game of the 2009 season, one which saw NIU nearly pull off a comeback at Wisconsin, club Western Illinois, and hold on for dear life at Purdue for the school's second ever win over the Big Ten. The defeat to the Vandals, one which saw the Fightin' Kills playing catch-up from the second quarter onward, came as a shock after the first three weeks of the season provided a great deal of optimism.
Since then, the program decided it had enough of teams waltzing into Huskie Stadium and knocking them around. A 26-game Huskie Stadium winning streak stands as the longest current home winning streak in FBS*, which will be put on the line starting Thursday against FCS Presbyterian. So before the proceedings kickoff in DeKalb in a few days, let's look back at this behemoth:
*Due to the NCAA's entirely competent and sensible requirements, the winning streak is not acknowledged by Mark Emmert's Minions. Two losses at Soldier Field in this span count as NIU home games (September 17th, 2011 - 49-7 to Wisconsin; September 1st, 2012 - 18-17 to Iowa), despite the university getting the short end of financial benefits and fan attendance. Technically, South Carolina has the longest home winning streak at 18. Back off, SEC honks.
WINS BY CONFERENCE:
-Big 12: 1 - September 22nd, 2012 vs. Kansas (30-23)
-Independent: 1 - September 3rd, 2011 vs. Army (49-26)
-Big Sky (FCS): 2 - September 11th, 2010 vs. North Dakota (23-17), September 24th, 2011 vs. Cal Poly (47-30)
-Ohio Valley (FCS): 2 - September 8th, 2012 vs. UT-Martin (35-7), September 21st, 2013 vs. Eastern Illinois (43-39)
MOST WINS AGAINST ONE TEAM:
3 - Western Michigan; Eastern Michigan; Ball State
MAC TEAMS NIU HAS NOT BEATEN DURING STREAK:
3 - Bowling Green; Ohio; Miami (Miami comes to DeKalb on October 18th...yes, they even beat Temple!)
WINS ON SATURDAYS:
7 (one win came on Black Friday 2011, 18-12 vs. Eastern Michigan)
LARGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY:
63 - November 3rd, 2012 vs. UMass (63-0)
SMALLEST MARGIN OF VICTORY:
3 - November 15th, 2011 vs. Ball State (41-38)
AVERAGE MARGIN OF VICTORY:
23,595 (twice - September 21st, 2013 vs. Eastern Illinois; October 12th, 2013 vs. Akron - announced sellouts)
10,148 - Halloween 2009 vs. Akron
SOLDIER FIELD RECORD (which are technically home games):
2 - 2011; 2012
3 - Jerry Kill; Dave Doeren; Rod Carey
2 - Jeff Compher; Sean Frazier
VICTOR E. HUSKIES:
ACTUAL DOG MASCOTS:
2 - Diesel; Mission
NIU has five home games on the 2014 docket, and the winning streak sits more perilously than in past seasons. Central Michigan and Toledo journey to DeKalb this year following a non-conference schedule featuring trips into the Big Ten, Mountain West and SEC. Quarterback and defensive line questions continue to hover. And for the first time in years, the Huskies are not considered MAC West favorites. Is this the year the Huskie Stadium luster begins to rust like...well, Huskie Stadium? Or does the streak hit 31, and I'll be writing up another one of these a year from now?
If Donny Osmond can keep capturing our hearts...anything's possible.