August 29, 2006

Know your opponent: Northern Illinois

Don't expect Northern Illinois to fear going on to the Horseshoe for the season opener against the Buckeyes. It wasn't all that long ago that Joe Novak's team stunned Alabama in Tuscaloosa and Maryland and Iowa State in DeKalb, Ill. And last season, the Huskies gave Michigan fits in a 33-17 loss in the season opener. This year, big games against Ohio State and Iowa give the Huskies two more chances to shock the world against a top-tier BCS school.

Northern Illinois is not a single-player team, but the one player everyone knows about is great. Running back Garrett Wolfe single-handedly took over games last season and is the Huskies' No. 1 threat.

Wolfe rushed for more than 175 yards a game last season in only nine games. He has run for more than 3,200 yards in his career at Northern Illinois. He has drawn comparisons to another talented NIU running back, Michael Turner, but could be a better back according to Northern Illinois beat writer Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford (Ill.) Register Star.

"He (Wolfe) can find the smallest cracks right up the middle at full speed and doesn't have to slow down," Trowbridge said. "Turner was a breakaway runner. Garrett can get three yards, four yards, five yards and also be a breakaway runner. He can get you tough yards and they have an awful good line as well."

Wolfe will just be the next in a long line of great running backs that the Buckeyes have had to face. He reminds head coach Jim Tressel of another running back that his team has face.

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