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Counter Intelligence: NIU

niu logoFrom time to time, OTP likes to touch base with bloggers who know our opponents best. Today’s guest is Mike from Red and Black Attack, your one stop shop for anything NIU related, at least from the perspective of the blogosphere. Red&Black Attack is a voting member of the CBSSports Blogpoll and also a member of the MAC Roundtable.

We exchanged questions and answers with them about tonight’s contest between the Huskies and the Cardinals…. and this is their responses to our questions of them. You can check out our answers to their questions at the above link. Let’s get it on…

OTP: So this is apparently a “Rivalry Game” with a fancy bronze corn stalk and such. Do you really consider this game a rivalry?

RaBA: No. A rivalry represents a back-and-forth series with conference titles on the line. Let’s just face it, with the exception of last year, Ball State just hasn’t been a major power in the West this entire decade. It certainly could develop in to one, but there isn’t any animosity between the schools that I’m aware of. This is just from NIU’s perspective. Yours could be different. The rivalry trophy was force fed to us like two lonely housewives seeking some excitement in their lives.

OTP: After the pounding NIU took last year in Muncie, are the NIU fans salivating at the chance to take BSU behind the woodshed?

RaBA: Absolutely. You guys straight up kicked our butt last year. It really was upsetting to get embarrassed like that on a national stage. Last year we had losses by 4 pts or less to Minnesota, WMU, Tennessee & CMU. I was so, so sad to see Nate Davis leave early for the NFL.

OTP: Chandler Harnish has been battling an injury recently. How has that changed the offensive approach for NIU? Will we see him at all tonight or are we simply going to get Spann jammed down our throats?

RaBA: I expect after NIU gets a comfortable lead of 14-21 pts, you could see Harnish come in to the game. Before that, we’re just going to run the ball and run the ball some more. Our backup DeMarcus Grady is also an underrated passer, so watch out for the play action.

OTP: NIU will most certainly be Bowling. Have you taken a gander at potential destinations and opponents? Where is your ideal Bowl and your ideal matchup?

RaBA: The bowl that we would most certainly like to go to is the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl. NIU has gone to bowl games in 2004, 2006 and 2008, but it’s always that we’re the 2nd choice to bowls that couldn’t fill their spot. This year it would be nice to get a bowl game that actually is affiliated with the MAC. Detroit would be a great present to our fans, who had to travel to California twice and Louisiana once to see the recent postseason appearances. In addition, we’ve had recent history with about any Big 10 team you can muster up to place in that bowl. NIU-Northwestern would be a matchup for the ages if it ever happens.

OTP: With any knowledge or understanding of these teams, I think most would consider this a sure victory for NIU. Often times, winning a game doesn’t count as a success. What will you be looking for as a “successful outing” for the Huskies?

RaBA: A successful outing for the Huskies includes being effective on offense. We’d like to run the ball all game, but if that isn’t working a couple passes mixed in wouldn’t hurt. There’s been some heat on playcalling and personnel decisions that has cost us some games this season. Stopping the run on D is a big part as well. Good special teams play is probably the most underrated aspect of this team as Tommy Davis is as good as anybody returning kickoffs and punts. Thanks for the questions and good luck Cardinals!


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