Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Post - Athens, OH
The independent newspaper covering campus and community since 1911.
The Post
Bryce Houston, 32, celebrates with teammates after catching an interception against Kent State at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio, Oct. 7, 2023.

Football: Ohio faces difficult road test against Northern Illinois

So far in the 2023 season, Ohio's (5-1, 2-0 Mid-American Conference) two MAC opponents have failed to keep it competitive. Northern Illinois, however, appears to be Ohio's toughest of the season. With a power five win under its belt, a near upset of defending MAC Champion Toledo and a 41-point win over Akron, Northern Illinois has the ability to snap Ohio's five-game winning streak.

Here's what to know about the Huskies:

Head Coach

Thomas Hammock made a splash at his alma mater in year three when he won the MAC Championship in 2021. After a difficult 5-13 start to his NIU coaching career, Hammock's MAC Championship win was the program's fifth since 2011. Hammock's Huskies couldn't repeat in 2022, having a 3-9 outing; however, the Huskies look poised for an improved 2023 season through the first six games.


Rocky Lombardi is in his third year as a starter for the Huskies and in his seventh year total. After transferring from Michigan State in 2020, Lombardi led the Huskies to the MAC Championship in 2021 with 24 total touchdowns. Lombardi was off to a stellar 2022 season before an injury ended his season. Outside of an ugly game against SIU where he threw three interceptions, Lombardi has had another strong start to the season.

Running back

Antario Brown is the leader of the NIU backfield. In the nonconference slate, it didn't seem as though Brown was set to have a standout season. However, in his first two games of MAC play, Brown has been one of the best players in the conference. Brown ran for 152 yards on 16 carries against Toledo and followed that performance with 280 yards and four touchdowns against Akron. Brown's 280-yard outing was the most rushing yards in a single game by a Husky since 2013.


Kacper Rutkiewicz is the standout in the Huskies' receiver room. A senior in his second year with NIU, Rutkiewicz has 313 yards receiving and two touchdowns in six games. Standing at 6 feet 5 inches, Grayson Barnes has the second most receiving yards on the team and his size could create matchup problems down the field for Ohio.


Raishein Thomas is in his senior season as one of the best defensive linemen on the team. Thomas leads the Huskies in total tackles with 34 and is second on the team in tackles for loss with four. Converted from tight end, George Gumbs is one of the Huskies' best pass-rushers. Gumbs leads the team with 3.5 sacks.


Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2016-2024 The Post, Athens OH