Underdog title nothing new for NIU players

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Underdog title nothing new for NIU players

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. Amid the cacophony that is the newfound media attention that constantly surrounds the Northern Illinois Huskies, one word has found a way to break through the noise.
In almost every question asked, you'll hear it: underdog.
What else could you call the Huskies? The team is the first-ever MAC school to make the BCS, and they'll go against a No. 12 Florida State team that was in the national-title hunt for all but a few weeks this season.
Some teams would take offense to being called an underdog, but Northern Illinois hasn't been quick to point out that they finished the regular season only three spots behind the Seminoles in the BCS Standings.
No, they rather like the title of underdog it fits.
"I think this team is made up of guys who, at one point in their life, were told that they're not good enough to play here," tight end Jason Schepler said. "So people saying that we're not good enough to be here is just another day for us."
Schepler is the perfect example of NIU's I'll-show-you attitude. Coming out of Sycamore high school, just up the road from NIU's campus, Schepler says he visited every Big Ten school. Each told him he wasn't big enough, wasn't athletic enough, was downright not good enough to play at the BCS level.
NIU took him on as a walk-on and put him at a position that seems from a bygone era a blocking tight end.
Across the country, most blocking tight ends are role players, buried on the overall depth chart, only to be used in special situations. Not Schepler. He's been NIU's offensive player of the week three times, a Lowes Senior CLASS Award finalist and a second-team academic All-American.
The man Schepler blocks for, quarterback Jordan Lynch, might have had Heisman hype this season, but he too came to Northern Illinois as a nobody. Only former Huskie coach Jerry Kill offered him a scholarship out of Mount Carmel high school.
"Im a quarterback first I would say, and no one really liked me for quarterback," Lynch said. "NIU was the only school that wanted me to play quarterback. It was the only school that gave me a shot, so he Kill came down to Mount Carmel and talked to Coach Lenti and invited me to a one-day camp, and I went up there, and he saw me play quarterback, and offered me that night."
Lynch has made good on his one opportunity.
After waiting on the bench for two years, Lynch ran for an astounding 1,771 yards this season not Johnny Manziel, Cam Newton, Eric Crouch, Mike Vick nor Steve Young ever rushed for as many. It set a new single-season rushing record for a FBS quarterback, and it was done without SportsCenter cut-ins or front-page fanfare.
It wasn't until the record was set that Lynch began to be noticed nationally, and now that he is, he's hoping to parlay the stage of the Orange Bowl a game Lynch called the next-best thing to the National Championship Game into another proving ground.
"It was always my dream, play in the NFL," Lynch said. "Just like Russell Wilson, RGIII and all that, theyre doing a great job and it seems like the NFL is starting to make the switch year by year with more quarterbacks like that. That definitely gives guys like me hope that are 6-foot or under."

Preview: Loyola faces Northern Iowa on CSN

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Preview: Loyola faces Northern Iowa on CSN

Missouri Valley Conference basketball is back on CSN on Wednesday night as Loyola heads to Northern Iowa. 

This game will tip live at 7:00 p.m. on CSN. 

The Ramblers (13-6, 3-3) are coming off of a home win over Missouri State as former Marshall star Milton Doyle leads the team with 16.1 points per game. 

Northern Iowa (6-11, 1-5) has struggled after some promising early wins as they snapped a seven-game losing streak with a win over Drake. Senior Jeremy Morgan is having a big season as he leads the Panthers in every major statistical category. 

Preview: Eastern Illinois, Southern llinois in action today on CSN

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AP

Preview: Eastern Illinois, Southern llinois in action today on CSN

College basketball is back on CSN on Saturday as two local teams will be featured in live conference matchups.

In the first matchup at 11 a.m., Eastern Illinois will host Austin Peay in an Ohio Valley Conference clash on CSN+ while the second matchup has Evansville hosting Southern Illinois in a Missouri Valley Conference game at 1 p.m. on CSN.

Eastern Illinois (9-8, 1-3) is coming off of a conference loss to Murray State. Junior guard Montell Goodwin leads the charge for the Panthers as he's averaging 14.8 points per game on the season. Austin Peay (5-13, 1-3) just earned a tight win over SIU-Edwardsville to help end an 11-game losing streak. Junior Josh Robinson is having a strong season despite the losing as he's averaging 21.2 points per game for the Governors.

The second game will be on the main CSN at 1 p.m. as Southern Illinois (10-8, 3-2) tries to bounce back from a loss to Bradley. The Salukis are led by sophomore guard Armon Fletcher as the Edwardsville product leads the team at 13.7 points per game.

Evansville (10-8, 1-4) is coming off of three consecutive losses as the Purple Aces are trying to figure things out at home. Senior Jaylon Brown has been one of the Valley's premier scorers this season as he's putting up 20.9 points per contest.