Iowa Football

Fun Facts, Northern Illinois-Iowa: Huskies own the Big Ten

It's a million-dollar game for NIU

It’s the return of Fun Facts. Why? They’re fun! We don’t have to overthink this, you know.

Here is this year’s initial batch, for the Northern Illinois-Iowa football game:

1. Iowa, Purdue, Oregon and Oklahoma State are the only FBS teams opening the season with four home games.

2. Northern Illinois has won four of its last five games against Big Ten teams, including its 2013 contest at Iowa. It was the underdog in three of those victories. The game the Huskies lost of those five was a 20-13 decision at Ohio State in 2015, and the Buckeyes were 34-point favorites.

3. The last time the Hawkeyes lost their opener was in 2013 to Northern Illinois. It’s Iowa’s only loss in nine games against the Huskies.

4. NIU took a 12-1 record to the Orange Bowl in the 2012 season. Its loss was 18-17 to Iowa in Chicago’s Soldier Field in the season-opener for both. The Hawkeyes went 4-8 that season, their worst record in the last 17 seasons.

5. Iowa starting linebacker Nick Niemann is from Sycamore, Ill., six miles from DeKalb, the home of Northern Illinois. Niemann’s father, Jay Niemann, was the defensive coordinator at NIU from 2011 to 2015 before taking a similar position at Rutgers.

6. Northern Illinois has never been higher than 12th in Associated Press’ college football rankings.


7. Former Iowa quarterback Chuck Long, who grew up in Wheaton, in northern Illinois about 40 miles from Northern Illinois, will be the color commentator for BTN’s telecast of this game. Long threw five TD passes against Northern Illinois in 1985. No player had matched that in a Kinnick Stadium game until Nate Stanley did it against Ohio State last year.

8. Kirk Ferentz and Hayden Fry have 143 coaching wins apiece at Iowa. No one else has more than 52.

9. Ferentz’s total pay in 2017 was $5.075 million. The 12 head coaches in the Mid-American Conference made a total of $6.25 million in 2017.

10. Iowa wide receivers coach Kelton Copeland was an NIU assistant from 2013-16. Hawkeyes offensive line coach Tim Polasek was the Huskies’ tight ends/fullbacks coach in 2013.

11. Northern Illinois is getting $1 million to play at Iowa. Oregon State is getting $1.7 million for its game at Ohio State Saturday. Texas State will get $1.2 million for its game at Rutgers the same day. Here is a list of the guarantee payouts around college football for Week 1.

12. All five of the Hawkeyes’ listed starting offensive linemen and all four of its listed starting defensive linemen this week are from Iowa, representing Bettendorf, Carroll, Cedar Rapids, Indianola, Ottosen, Solon, Urbandale, Waukee and Waukon.

13. ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit picks NIU to win the MAC West and lose to Ohio in the league’s title game. The MAC’s coaches and media picked the Huskies to win the West, too.

14. In 1998, current Huskies quarterbacks coach Craig Harmon was a freshman walk-on who began the season as NIU’s sixth-string QB. By the fourth game of that season, he was the starter.


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15. Cindy Morgan, who played Lacey Underall in “Caddyshack,” is a Northern Illinois graduate.

16. NIU’s mascot is Victor E. Huskie. Other mascot names include Victor E. Bull (Buffalo), Victor E. Panther (Milwaukee), and Victor E. Viking (Northern Kentucky, Portland State, Western Washington).

17. In his team’s 36-14 Quick Lane Bowl loss to Duke last year, NIU Coach Rod Carey called a fake punt from his own end zone on 4th-and-18. It didn’t work.

18. DeKalb was once known as the world’s barbed wire capital. The Ellwood House Museum in DeKalb has a lot of barbed wire samples. Isaac Ellwood was a barbed wire entrepreneur.

19. DeKalb was named for Baron Johann de Kalb, a German who died fighting for America during the Revolutionary War. He served on George Washington’s Continental Army staff.

As he lay dying, de Kalb reportedly said “I die the death I always prayed for: The death of a soldier fighting for the rights of man.”

Fun Facts just got a little heavy, so ...

20. The DeKalb Travel Oasis on I-88 is known to countless Iowans. It has a McDonald’s, a Panda Express, a Sbarro and a Subway. Choose wisely.

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Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.