With a bye week in the books for Northern Illinois, it seems like that rousing season-opening win over Iowa was forever ago.
That's the downside of any bye week, killing the momentum that a team was riding prior. But it's the upside that Northern is focused on: getting time to rest and recover and extra time to prep for the next opponent.
"Well like we talked about last week, we used the bye week well," NIU coach Rod Carey said Tuesday. "We prepared. We got a jump start on Idaho and we certainly used it to develop our young guys and now we’re moving forward full on game plan and getting that thing all detailed out and polished and ready to go."
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One wouldn't expect Idaho to put too much fear into a team that has accomplished what Northern has. The Vandals missed the conference-realignment boat, ending up an FBS independent after the dissolution of the WAC. And to make matters even gloomier in the Gem State, the Vandals have lost their first two games of the season by a combined score of 82-16.
But, in true heavy-favorite fashion, Carey pointed out all the things his team has to worry about going into the game.
"I have a bunch of concerns. How long do you have?" Carey said. "We've got a long trip out there, and then we're staying at a hotel that’s about two hours away. We're playing in a dome that can be loud, and we're playing a team with their first home-opener. They're hungry and they're a well-coached football team. When you capsulize all that and you put it all in a bottle, you get concerned but you want to deal with things straight on. You do not want to let anything be a surprise. So we talk about those things, and we talk about how we have to handle our business to counteract those things. As a coach you're always concerned but you have to deal with it head on."
Those concerns have everything and nothing to do with actually playing Idaho on the field. The odd location, the noise in their odd dome, the odd lodging arrangements, the odd air.
It's certainly one heck of a curve ball for the Huskies.
"I know we have a long plane ride, something like a two hour bus trip when we get there, on gameday we're going to drive an hour and a half to two hours, and I know the longest I’ve ever been on is about 45 minutes on gameday," linebacker Michael Santacaterina said. "So it’s something we’ll have to get ready for and prepare for, and just handle it the right way and be mentally tough about it, and go in there and do what we do once we get off the bus.”