Game was big before ESPN said it was

The game against Northern Illinois Saturday was going to be big before all of this happened.

Before ESPN2 decided to broadcast it, before GameDay decided to visit our campus, and before the game sold out yesterday, the game was going to be important to BG’s season.

For all the talk and excitement that the ESPN arrival has brought, the game will end up being the main attraction.

I’m willing to bet that the coaches and players for BG have been largely unaffected by the hype. The sentiment from Gregg Brandon, Josh Harris and everyone else has been the same.

They want to win the Mid-American Conference.

The Falcons have some big big games left on the schedule, most notably traveling to Miami in 13 days for another nationally televised contest.

But it’s this game that could set the course for the rest of the season.

Northern Illinois is undoubtedly the team to beat in the MAC, knocking off a top-ranked Maryland team and beating tough MAC teams like Ohio and Western Michigan.

But it was what occurred last season that makes gives this game an extra layer of intrigue.

It was Northern Illinois that ended BG’s undefeated streak, and ended BG’s winning for the season, as the Falcons went on to drop their final two games.

Now, the roles are reversed.

Northern Illinois is ranked 12th in the Associated Press poll, and 14th in the USA Today-ESPN coaches poll.

The Falcons not only have the ability to improve their record, but enact a little revenge on the Huskies.

But all of this has been true ever since the schedule was announced.

The game would be important even if it was being played in the forests of Washington in front of an audience of trees and badgers.

The most intriguing questions for Saturday for me involve whether BG can stop running back Michael Turner, and if Josh Harris can continue his trend of having great games when they matter the most.

ESPN coming to BG is great, but it shouldn’t take away from the tremendous display that will be taking place between the lines. No matter how great the sold out crowd, the television cameras and the GameDay show are, the matchup on the field will not be overshadowed. The MAC has a way of putting on great games in front of a national audience.

Just ask anyone who watched Marshall and Miami play last season.

It’s all about the football.