Team preview: Northern Illinois

Editor's Note: ESPN Insider has teamed with Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook to provide a comprehensive look at all 119 Division I-A teams. To order the complete 2005 edition of Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook, visit www.blueribbonyearbook.com or call 1-866-805-BALL (2255).

(All information as of July 1, 2005)


The Chicago Cubs are not the only sports team feeling cursed in the state of Illinois these days.

Meet Joe Novak and the Northern Illinois football team.

Over the last three years the Huskies have upset Maryland, Alabama and Iowa State, been ranked as high as No. 10 in the BCS and No. 12 in the Associated Press poll, gone to their first bowl game in 21 seasons and won, and earned a share of a MAC West title three times.

But, just like a chance at the World Series has eluded the Cubbies, the Huskies have been denied a crack at a MAC championship.

The biggest reason could be summed up in one word -- Toledo.

The Rockets have owned NIU, winning 11 straight in the series, including last season's 31-17 victory that turned out to be the Huskies' lone blemish in the MAC.