DEKALB, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Athletes who love to compete also love to do it on a big stage. Northern Illinois University’s football team will get that chance this week. The Huskies will be in Lincoln to play Nebraska.
More than 90,000 fans will fill Memorial Stadium for this game. It’ll be the 370th consecutive sellout there. 18 current NIU Huskies had the experience of playing there two years ago.
“It was incredible! It was the coolest environment I’ve ever played a football game at,” said NIU defensive tackle Weston Kramer. “I am so excited to go back there.”
“There was a lot of people. A lot of people,” said NIU linebacker Antonio Jones-Davis recalling that 2017 game. “That was probably the biggest stadium I had ever played in at the time.”
Even NIU coach Thomas Hammock who has coached at Wisconsin and in NFL stadiums senses the excitement of playing a game at a location like Nebraska.
“If you’re a competitor you want to play in these type of games. These type of environments. These are the type of games that you remember when you’re 50-60 years old.”
Two years ago the Huskies went into Lincoln and upset the Cornhuskers 21-17 thanks to a pair of pick-sixes. That proved to the Huskies that they can handle the environment. They were in a hostile environment last week too at Utah, but not quite on the scale of Nebraska.
“Nebraska is probably two times (bigger) because it’s 90,000 people as opposed to 45,000,” said Hammock.
NIU has more than held it’s own against Big Ten teams. Eight times NIU teams have defeated Big Ten teams, and NIU has won four of it’s last six games against Big Ten teams beating the likes of Purdue, Northwestern, Iowa and of course Nebraska.
Hammock says forget about that win in Lincoln two years ago. It really has no impact on this game Saturday.
“You don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what happened two years ago. (It’s) A different team, different coaches, a different situation.”
But the players know that no matter what happens Saturday the experience of playing at Nebraska is one they’ll never forget, and if they can pull off another win, that will only add to their lasting impression.
The game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports1 at 7 p.m. Central Time Saturday.