WXYT Radio (AM-1270) and The Wolverine contributor Doug Karsch is reporting that Michigan's third and final non-conference opponent for the 2005 football season is Northern Illinois. That means U-M's lineup leading into the Big Ten schedule will consist of Eastern Michigan, Notre Dame and Northern Illinois, all at home.
The Huskies, under head coach Joe Novak, recorded an 8-3 record this season, but they're not done yet. They'll be taking on Troy on Dec. 30 in the Silicon Valley Football Classic in Spartan Stadium (San Jose, Calif.). ESPN2 will broadcast that game live, beginning at 11 p.m. EST.
The last four years under Novak, the Huskies have finished 8-3, 10-2, 8-4 and 6-5. They're led by sophomore tailback Garrett Wolfe, a 2004 Collegefootballnews.com honorable mention All-American.
"Garrett just has tons of rushing yards," Novak noted. "What a great year he's had and the best thing is that he is only a sophomore."
Wolfe is only 5-7, 174 pounds and began the year as NIU's No. 3 tailback. But in Mike Hart-like ascension, Wolfe grabbed the starting job and reeled off 1,572 rushing yards this year – an amazing 1,470 in the final six and a half games of the season.
He is presently No. 5 nationally in average rushing yards per game, with 157.2. He has also rushed for 100 yards in seven straight games, a Northern Illinois record.
Wolfe ran wild on Eastern Michigan in the regular-season finale, putting up a school record 325 yards on 43 carries.
Another of the Huskies' big weapons is Danny Sheldon, who is leading the nation in yards-per-reception (23.6) and is No. 7 nationally in average per punt return (16.7). The Wolverines won't have that senior to deal with next fall, however.
The scheduling sandwiches a pair of Mid-American Conference teams around the showdown with Notre Dame. Michigan then begins its Big Ten season in a very difficult fashion, opening on the road at Camp Randall Stadium in Wisconsin before traveling to East Lansing to take on Michigan State.
Here is Michigan's complete 2005 football schedule:
Sept. 3 – Eastern Michigan
Sept. 10 – Notre Dame
Sept. 17 – Northern Illinois
Sept. 24 – at Wisconsin
Oct. 1 – at Michigan State
Oct. 8 – Minnesota
Oct. 15 – Penn State
Oct. 22 – at Iowa
Oct. 29 – at Northwestern
Nov. 5 – Bye
Nov. 12 – Indiana
Nov. 19 – Ohio State