Huskies shine in national spotlight

Updated: September 2, 2003, 5:40 PM ET
By Adam Rittenberg | Special to ESPN Insider
A deflected Randee Drew interception capped Northern Illinois' 20-13 overtime win against Maryland last Thursday in what was perhaps the greatest win in school history. Huskies coach Joe Novak arrived at his office the morning after to see his e-mail inbox flooded with congratulatory messages. A friend of Northern Illinois athletic director Cary Groth caught highlights of the win in Hong Kong. The Huskies have now upset top-20 teams (then-undefeated Bowling Green last year) in consecutive seasons and received 43 votes in this week's AP poll. "It gives our program some credibility," said coach Joe Novak. "You can talk about playing people close but we didn't get the job done until now."

  • Huskies tailback Michael Turner took a sidestep in the Heisman race against Maryland, at least on paper. Turner had 90 yards on 30 carries (3.0 yards a carry average) in the game. "Maryland was determined not to let Mike Turner get a lot of yards," Novak said. "We were able to throw it for over 250 yards and that was the difference in the game. Even if you're doing a good job on a kid like Mike, you tackle him 30, 35 times a game, it's going to wear on you a little bit."

  • Novak gave a passing grade to redshirt freshman T Doug Free, who started his first game against Maryland. Although the Huskies allowed five QB sacks, the offense outgained the Terrapins 325-212. "They came with some blitzes we hadn't seen before," Novak said. "But the kids played with some confidence as the game went on."