No. 13 Utes Open Home Competition Versus Northern Illinois


University of Utah junior offensive lineman Orlando Umana (50) snaps the ball during an NCAA Football game vs. Brigham Young University at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sammy Mora, Sports Editor


The wait for a home football game is finally over for fans of the No. 13 University of Utah Football team (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12). The team will take on Northern Illinois University (1-0, 0-0 MAC) in an early morning showdown on Saturday Sept. 7. Both teams are looking to stay perfect after big wins in week one. Utah took down rival Brigham Young University 30-12 while NIU defeated Illinois State 24-10. This is the second time in school history that the two will meet, and the first time that the Huskies will play at Rice-Eccles Stadium.


Scouting the Utes

The Utes are returning to Rice-Eccles Stadium after an impressive win against BYU last week. Despite the game being halted for just under an hour for lightning, the team rallied and got their ninth straight win against their rivals.

The Utes are tied for first place nationally for number of defensive touchdowns scored after both Julian Blackmon and Francis Bernard scored in the BYU game. Bernard was named the Pac-12 Defensive player of the week, which was his first time being honored by the conference during his career at Utah. The Utes also moved up one spot in this week’s AP poll. The only team ahead of Utah who lost last week was Oregon.


Rushing Record Watch

After last week’s game, senior running back Zack Moss is 382 yards away from breaking the program record that has been held by Eddie Johnson since 1988. Moss’s performance last week pushed him into third place, surpassing Devonte Booker. Moss needs 158 yards to take second place away from Tony Lindsay who had 2,995 yards in his career at Utah. If Moss hits more than 3,219 total yards, he will have broken a record that hasn’t been touched in over 31 years.


Scouting NIU

NIU, just like Utah, is coming off a victory against an in-state foe — Illinios State University. In the win, Cal graduate transfer quarterback Ross Bowers threw for 299 yards on 20 attempts in his debut for the team. Tre Harbison led the team in rushing for just under a 100 yards on 23 carries.

Utah isn’t the only team who had players recognized by their conference after performances during last week’s game. Sophomore cornerback Jalen McKie was named the MAC West Defensive Player of the Week after having a pick six that helped edge the team past ISU.

Last week’s win marked the first career win for new head coach Thomas Hammock. Hammock and Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig were both on the coaching staff at Wisconsin in 2013.

This week’s game marks the first time since 1996 that the Huskies have traveled to a Pac-12 school to play. They are 0-2 against the conference overall.


Mascot Report

Since Northern Illinois’ mascot is the Huskie, not only do they have an animated version of the dog, they have an actual dog that attends the games. His name is Mission, and he was appointed the new mascot of the school in 2013 after the old mascot named Diesel passed away. Since taking over, Mission has lead the team through numerous post game victory runs through his home stadium. Mission not only attends sporting events, but also visits classrooms on campus to visit students and professors alike. You can follow Mission the Dog here.

Their other mascot’s name is Victor E. Huskie and while he is cool, he isn’t as cool as Mission. 


Where to Watch 

Kick is set for 11 a.m., and the game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.


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