Legendary sportswriter Wendell Barnhouse recently left the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and is now a correspondent for Big 12 Sports.com. With 30 years experience of observing the college scene, his expertise is unmatched. In the spirit of Steve Harvey's Bottom Ten, Wendell will provide us a capsule look at college football's less fortunate, counting down the Bottom 25 teams in Division I-A football.
No. 19 Northern Illinois
Location: DeKalb, Ill.
Conference: Mid-American, West Division.
Coach: Jerry Kill, first season.
Division I-A history: 448-443-50 in 106 seasons, .523 winning percentage.
Last bowl season: 2006.
Best record last five years: 10-2 in 2003.
Rank(ed) because: Spanning the 1995 through 1998 seasons, the Huskies lost 31 of 32 games, including a 23-game skid. Joe Novak persevered, putting together seven consecutive winning seasons between 2000 and 2006. The thud was last year's 2-10 record, a sign that the bottom has fallen out.
Negative number: In last season's 10 losses, the Huskies scored more than 21 points only twice.
Possible victory: at Minnesota, Aug. 30. Why not start off the Jerry Kill Era with a bang? The Gophers, after all, lost to Bowling Green of the MAC and to I-AA North Dakota State last season.
Biggest blowout: at Tennessee, Oct. 4. The Volunteers' size and speed will be too much for the Huskies.
Is there hope?: Starting quarterback Dan Nicholson and starting running back Justin Anderson, a 1,000-yard rusher, return. If the Huskies can avoid injuries, Kill's first season could provide a nice building block to restoring the past glory.
Thanks to the Helmet Project.