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An open letter to Northern Illinois

From one Midwestern team to another, we're sorry.

A coach with eyes that strike fear into all that oppose him.
A coach with eyes that strike fear into all that oppose him.
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Northern Illinois,

Hey. What's up? How are things in your neck of the Midwest? It was getting a bit chilly down here for a bit, and then it went back to being hot. You know what I'm talking about, right? Just some good ol' fashioned Heartland weather.

So, as I'm sure you know, we have a game today. Yes, I know we're the No. 1 team in the nation and the defending national champs. Yes, I know you're in the MAC and that we've never lost to a MAC team. I also know that, going into the season, Arkansas had never lost to a MAC team, and look at them now. So what I'm trying to say is this: we're not gonna be looking past this game, and for that, I'm sorry.

You see, last year, there was this team. They were a bit like you. They were a program that, while they'd been pretty okay in recent years, had slipped down from that high pedestal. Like you, they played us early in the season, and, like you, their team name started with an H. Now, I'm not saying that you're quite on the same level that the Hokies were last year. After all, they finished last year 7-6, while you guys wrapped things up with an impressive 11-3 record and a conference championship. What I'm saying is, Urban Meyer and the 2014 Buckeyes learned the hard way what happens when you aren't at your best for a lesser opponent, and it almost cost them a national championship. I can assure you that they haven't forgotten that lesson just yet.

So I'm sorry that you have to come to Columbus in a year when we're going for back-to-back championships. I'm sure you didn't know that was going to happen when you agreed to this.  I'm sorry that you have to go into this as a 30+ point underdog. I'm sorry that this isn't a few years ago, when you were actually ranked. I'm especially sorry you have to come down here the week after the Hawaii game, when our offense couldn't seem to click and the coaches probably worked them extra hard this week to make sure it didn't happen again.

But like I said, the MAC has pulled off some big upsets before, some very recently. Toledo gave Arkansas their best game last week. I'm sure you'll give us yours; I'm just sorry that you may have to experience ours.


Ohio State