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Published: Tuesday, 11/1/2011 - Updated: 2 years ago

Huskies return to UT's house

Rockets' Glass Bowl often a slippery slope for NIU

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Northern Illinois’ senior quarterback Chandler Harnish has lost three times at the Glass Bowl, including in his last trip in 2009. Northern Illinois’ senior quarterback Chandler Harnish has lost three times at the Glass Bowl, including in his last trip in 2009.
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The Glass Bowl historically hasn't been a very welcome place for the Northern Illinois Huskies to play.

In their last 20 trips to Toledo, Northern Illinois has lost 18 times, including a 20-19 defeat in their last game here in 2009.

The Huskies (5-3, 3-1 Mid-American Conference) are back in town again Tuesday for a 7 p.m. meeting against the Rockets (5-3, 4-0), with the victor getting a significant leg-up in the race for the MAC West Division title.

"We're playing against the best team in our league [Tuesday], and we're the second best, recordwise," NIU coach Dave Doeren said. "We need this win from a tiebreaker standpoint. We're right where we want to be. You want November to be important, and it is."

As for how his team can go about ending its misfortune at the Glass Bowl, Doeren said managing the game and not letting bad situations spiral out of control is key.

"Not just NIU, but a lot of teams have struggled on the road playing at the Glass Bowl," Doeren said. "If we want to make it a manageable place, we have to play our best to keep people quiet. The better they play, the worse we play, the more involved their stands and their fans are going to be. We've got to control the environment the best that we can

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NIU senior quarterback Chandler Harnish has experienced three losses first-hand at the Glass Bowl, dating back to his redshirt season in 2007, when the Huskies got walloped 70-21 by the Rockets.

As one of the top signal-callers in the MAC, Harnish will likely play a meaningful role if NIU is to get its first win at UT since 2005. He leads the conference in total offense, accounting for more than 304 yards per game through the air and on the ground, and has thrown the fewest interceptions (4) of any MAC quarterback who has attempted at least 150 passes.

"This conference is known for having good quarterbacks, and he's definitely one of them," UT coach Tim Beckman said.

Beckman got a chance to get acquainted with Harnish in the offseason at the Columbus Touchdown Club's annual awards ceremony, where UT junior wide receiver Eric Page, Harnish and several others were honored.

"What a class individual," Beckman said. "What a classy kid. I can definitely see why he's won a lot of football games as a college football player. He's a great leader and just handles himself very, very well."

Toledo counters with one of the conference's top defense, ranking first in turnover margin (+13), although that unit was carved up last year in a 65-30 loss at NIU.

"Our defense needs to rise to the challenge," Beckman said. "[NIU] is very, very good on offense."

The Huskies utilized a fervent crowd and seized momentum early in last year's matchup between the two schools, so whichever team is able to deliver the first punch Tuesday may go a long way in determining the winner.

Playing on their home field should give the Rockets an early boost.

"It's going to be a great game," Doeren said. "I know their crowd is backing them. They were over 25,000 [in attendance] last week [against Miami], so it's going to be a really great environment."

RANCIFER OUT: UT senior safety Charles Rancifer will not play against Northern Illinois because of disciplinary reasons, a UT athletic department spokesman confirmed to The Blade on Monday night.

Rancifer posted on his Twitter account earlier Monday evening that he wouldn't be in the lineup against the Huskies, and UT associate athletic director for media relations Paul Helgren said Beckman would address the matter after Tuesday's game.

"I hate I won't be playin toma [sic], but my brothers will hold it down for me toma [sic] night," Rancifer tweeted.

The post has since been removed.

Rancifer has made seven starts at the "star" position this season and is tied for fourth on team with 38 tackles.

Contact Zach Silka at: zsilka@theblade.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @ZachSilka.



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