Updated: November 15, 2011 10:22PM
There is no national campaign pushing Northern Illinois senior quarterback Chandler Harnish for the Heisman Trophy.
And this is the year of the quarterback. Right? Six of the top seven candidates are quarterbacks. But the likes of Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Boise State’s Kellem Moore, Houston’s Case Keenum, Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden and Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson play for schools representing larger, more reputable, more established teams that play tougher schedules and frequently play on network television, which the Huskies have never done.
“But (Harnish) is everything you could ever want in a quarterback on the field and off the field,” Huskies coach Dave Doeren said. “He’s an outstanding player, an excellent student, an intelligent courageous leader and a great human being.”
And when Harnish leads Northern Illinois (7-3, 5-1) against Ball State 6-4,4-2) Tuesday night in Huskies Stadium, Huskies fans could care less what the rest of the world thinks. They’re extremely happy that he is leading the Huskies consistently as an all-academic player, has them on a five-game win streak two wins shy of a second straight MAC West Division titles, is guiding them to a fourth straight post-season bowl appearance and is madly rewriting the NIU record book for quarterbacks.
It is true that Harnish has a lot more chances because he is a fifth-year senior. Most all those other players, whose records he broke, had just four years to set them.
The Huskies are coming off a three-road trip capped by last Tuesday’s 45-14 win over Bowling Green. Harnish passed for 294 yards, two touchdowns and ran for 151 yards and one touchdown. NIU led 24-14 at halftime and its much-maligned defense shut out Bowling Green the second half and the offensive line, which has allowed six sacks all season, did not allow one.
“I was proud of the way our defense pressured them through the game and shut them out the second half,” Doeren said.
Coach Pete Lembo’s Cardinals haven’t been scoring like the Huskies, who are averaging a school-record 42.6 points a game. But they are close to the Huskies in defensive stats. The Huskies have been giving up 33.6 points a game and the Cardinals, 33.
“They were able to play at a high level earlier in the year....knocking off Indiana and Army,” Doeren said. (Lembo) is well organized. I know he does not have all the personnel may be what he wants on the defensive end, they play hard and they’re sound. Their quarterback (Keith Wenning) does a good job, he runs and their receivers run good routes.