Game Day: Final thoughts on NIU

By Chris Williams, Publisher

I am not a know-it-all. I fully realize that there are hundreds, thousands and maybe millions of people out there who know a heck of a lot more about the game of football than I do.

One of those men is Eric Heft, Iowa State’s color commentator on the Cyclone Radio Network. That’s why when he approaches me, I listen.

On Monday, I appeared on KXNO’s Matt and Miller program. Matt Perrault asked me if tonight’s game was a “must win” for Iowa State to reach a bowl game in 2010. I said “yes.” If you look at the schedule, it isn’t hard to realize that losing this game would put Iowa State in a gigantic hole when it comes to bowling this post season. You don’t need to read another blog from somebody writing about how tough Iowa State’s 2010 schedule is though.

But “must win” is a strong statement.

That was Heft’s point during our conversation. It was a point well-taken.

“We all called last year’s Kansas State game a must win,” Heft said.

We all know how that worked out. Just ask Nebraska.

That’s why today, I fully admit that I was wrong. If Iowa State wins tonight, the Cyclones will be one step closer to the post season. If they lose, the season isn’t over. But it would make things a heck of a lot more difficult.

Stopping Chad Spann

I realize that at this point, you’ve heard about Northern Illinois running back Chad Spann. In fact, you might be tired of reading about the All-MAC tailback who rushed for 1,060 yards and 19 touchdowns last season.

“He is a good back. We’re going to have to swarm and punish him,” Iowa State defensive end Rashawn Parker said. “We’ve seen him in a lot of games from last season. We’ll have to be sure to keep an eye on him the whole game.”

“He’s shifty. He’s fast. He’s strong. He runs downhill. He can go side-to-side. He makes good cuts. It will be key for us to stop their running game.”

I agree that Chad Spann is a solid back. But don’t forget that Northern Illinois has little to no depth on the offensive line and they’ll be starting three newcomers at the position. That’s a point that not many have made.

My final pick: Iowa State 27, Northern Illinois 21


The Des Moines Register game preview

An interesting Cameron Bell/NIU story

NIU beat writer predicts ISU 24, Huskies 20