Northern Michigan University Wildcats football team looking to break bad streak vs. Michigan Tech
MARQUETTE — The football rivalry between Northern Michigan University and Michigan Tech is still heated after all these years, even if in recent years it’s become one-sided.
NMU (1-2 overall, 1-1 GLIAC) is on a seven-game losing streak to the Huskies (2-2, 1-2) that includes multiple heartbreaking defeats.
In 2014, the Wildcats lost on a last-second field goal, and a year after that, they blew a late lead and lost by a single point.
But perhaps most painful of all was last season, when Northern tied the game with 9 seconds left in regulation only to lose in double overtime in the Superior Dome.
NMU may have had some depressing outcomes against Tech, but Wildcats first-year head coach Kyle Nystrom said he and his squad aren’t paying any attention to that.
“What has happened here in the past has nothing to do with me or our staff or the players that are here right now,” he said. “Even though they were here, it’s still a new dynamic when you’re bringing in a new staff and a new culture.
“What happened in the past is that. I don’t have nothing to do with that. We know they’re a good football team and I know we’ve got to be a good football team, so here we go.”
When looking at this year’s Tech squad, also under a new head coach in former MTU defensive coordinator Steve Olson, Northern has a tough task ahead of them.
Even with the Wildcats picking up their first win this season on Saturday against Davenport, Tech is a far superior opponent to the newest football-playing member of the league.
NMU will have to improve on defense if it wants to keep up with the Huskies, who run the ball effectively.
Nystrom said that there might me some personnel changes on defense this week, but the overall game plan will remain the same.
“For offense, we just can’t afford to go to sleep and execute,” he said. “It’s going to be that kind of game. You’re looking for the offense to be productive and use the ball-control thought process.
“At the same time, you have to have production at the end of the drive. On defense, we’ll have to be good in the box and if they take a shot, we’ll have to cover them and try to affect the quarterback. It’s always the same and it doesn’t change from opponent to opponent.”
Even though the Wildcats are focusing on Tech this week, Nystrom talked a bit about the Davenport game. There were still things to fix despite the positive outcome.
“I liked a lot of the offense, but I think we went to sleep for too long,” he said. “We were fighting field position way too much. That comes down to special teams because we’re not covering too well. So we might make some personnel changes on our kickoff and punt teams to try to be a better tackling team out there.
“On defense, we’re not doing what we’re supposed to do. You can’t just sit there in ‘base’ all day. There are times where you need to dial it up and affect the quarterback.
“In the end, it came out the way we wanted. I just wish it was executed a little bit better. I’m happy with the win and I feel fortunate with the win, so we’ll take it.”
Northern tangles with Tech at 7 p.m. Saturday in Houghton. The game will be televised by WLUC TV6.
Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.