Eagles to face Northern Illinois

EMU and NIU line up in 2008, when NIU recorded a 37-0 win for its seventh of the past eight in the series. They play at 6:30 CDT tonight, and it will broadcast on ESPNU and WEMU 89.1 FM.

Eastern Michigan coach Ron English said he believes a quick turnaround could help his team, which plays Northern Illinois at 6:30 CDT Thursday night in DeKalb, Ill.

The game comes just five days after a lopsided loss to the Southeastern Conference’s Arkansas.

EMU (0-8, 0-4 Mid-American Conference) practiced in full pads once this week, which leads to less hitting and a little extra time to heal for a team that’s been ravaged with injuries.

“I think that it may well help us,” English said of the short week. “What we do is really get after it every day. It’s been a long season for these kids. They’re not use to the contact (they’ve been having).”

NIU (5-3, 3-1) has two solid running backs in Chad Spann and Me’co Brown, who’ve each rushed for at least 500 yards to lead the best rushing offense (206 yards per game) in the conference. To the contrary, EMU has the worst rush defense in the country (277).

“I like their backs,” English said. “They can run the ball. It’s going to be a lot of fun to play those guys because they play power football.”

To make matters worse, EMU plays three of its final four games on the road. It hasn’t won on the road since defeating Bowling Green 24-21 on Oct. 4, 2008 and hasn’t won at all since defeating Central Michigan 56-52 in the final game of last season. EMU’s next home game is against Western Michigan on Nov. 14.

“You look at their schedule that (English’s) had to inherit in taking that job, and to me it’s unbelievable, a very difficult schedule,” second-year NIU coach Jerry Kill said at his weekly teleconference.

“Everybody they’ve played is a very good football team. I think they’ve gotten better because of the competition.”

English, too, said he believes his team is improving, despite not winning in the first eight attempts of his coaching debut.

“It’ll be interesting as we go forward here” he said. “We have a lot of things going on that people don’t know about.

“You’re going to see a big leap in this program in the next year or so. We’re making improvement, and we’re making strides. It’s not as evident as it will be.”

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