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College Football Spotlight

Turner Meets Ghost of Huskies' Past

October 19, 2003|Elliott Teaford

With his day's work nearing an end, Northern Illinois running back Michael Turner paused to meet former Husky All-American LeShon Johnson at halftime.

"To meet him was great," Turner said after gaining 137 of his 173 yards in the first half of the 12th-ranked Huskies' 37-10 victory Saturday over Western Michigan at DeKalb, Ill.

"It was like history. He talked to me about things I might face in college and pro ball. I wanted to put on a little show for him, but the team goal was more important."

Johnson led the nation in rushing in 1993, gaining a school-record 1,976 yards -- at the time the fourth-best mark in Division I-A history -- and finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Turner is on pace to rush for 1,592 yards.

It has been said that Johnson was the biggest thing to hit DeKalb since supermodel Cindy Crawford.

It's unknown if Crawford was among the 28,221, the largest homecoming crowd in school history, that saw the Huskies improve to 7-0 for the first time since 1956 and match their longest winning streak since they became a Division I-A team in 1969.

Unlike their first six victories, when they had to rally to win, Northern Illinois built a 27-3 lead against Western Michigan by halftime.

Next: Bowling Green and a nationally televised game against a Mid-American Conference rival that defeated Purdue earlier this season.

"It's exciting to be recognized," said Joe Novak, the Huskies' coach. "But when we get to Bowling Green our focus is going to be on the football field. I don't care if the president is there. It's going to be a great game. But as big a game as it is, there are still others left to play after it."

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-- Elliott Teaford

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