Nov. 27, 2012
MAC Championship Game Release | Postseason Central
Northern Illinois Football 2012
Marathon MAC Championship Game
No. 19/18 Northern Illinois (11-1, 8-0) vs. No. 18/19 Kent State (11-1, 8-0)
Nov. 30, 2012 | 6 p.m. (CT) | ESPN2 | Detroit, Mich. | Ford Field | 65,000
NIU QUARTERBACK Jordan Lynch
HEISMAN TROPHY CANDIDATE
The Last Meeting
October 8, 2011
...Top dual-threat quarterback in the country ranks third in the nation in total offense, fifth in rushing and 12th in passing efficiency.
...Needs 92 yards to break the NCAA FBS mark for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a season.
...Has set the NCAA Record for most consecutive 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback with 10 while throwing for at least 150 yards in 11 consecutive games.
...Second player in FBS history to rush for more than 1,500 yards (1,611) and pass for more than 2,500 (2,750) in a season.
...Has run and passed for 39 touchdowns while leading NIU to an 11-1 record, No. 18 (USA Today) national ranking and 11-game winning streak.
...Over the last eight games, has thrown 16 touchdown passes with only one interception
...First player in FBS history to pass for more than 400 yards and rush for more than 150 in a game (vs. Toledo, 11/14).
...Is playing for his FOURTH different position coach in four years at NIU
...Playing behind an offensive line that entered 2012 WITHOUT a returning starter
###Northern Illinois earned its highest ranking since 2003 as the Huskies are ranked No. 18 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll and No. 19 in the Associated Press Poll this week.
###NIU will take on No. 18 (AP)/No. 19 (USA Today) Kent State Friday in Detroit as the MAC West Champion Huskies make their third consecutive appearance in the Marathon MAC Championship Game.
###Overall, Northern Illinois has won a school-record 11 consecutive games for the second-longest winning streak in the nation; the Huskies are the only NCAA FBS team to win 20 of their last 21 games.
###Northern Illinois takes the longest conference winning streak in the country (16 games) into the Kent State game.
###The Huskies have won a school-record 11 regular season games to match the school-record win total of the 2010 and 2011 NIU teams.
###NIU Heisman Trophy candidate Jordan Lynch is the most productive dual-threat quarterback in the nation with 2,750 passing and 1,611 rushing yards with 39 TDs (responsible for). He ranks third in the country in total offense, fifth in rushing and 12th in passing efficiency.
###Lynch has set a new NCAA record for most consecutive 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback with 10 and needs 92 yards to break the record for most rushing yards in a season by a quarterback.
###NIU defensive lineman Nabal Jefferson - who owns a 3.78 GPA in accountancy - won a 2012 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award, presented to the top 15 student-athletes in all of college football; the Huskies lead the country with four CoSIDA Academic All-District picks.
###The Huskies are one play away from 12-0 as Iowa scored its lone touchdown of the season-opener on a 23-yard run on third-and-nine with 2:15 to play, giving the Hawkeyes a 18-17 victory over NIU.
###Over the last 10 years, NIU is the winningest program in the Mid-American Conference (89-50, 64.0%) and lead all area FBS teams in wins.
###NIU is scoring 40.5 points/game while giving up only 17.5.
HUSKIE FOOTBALL FACTS
2012 Record/MAC Record: 11-1/8-0
2011 Record/MAC Record/Finish: 11-3/7-1/T1st West
Head Coach: Dave Doeren
Record at NIU/Years: 22-4/2nd
Career Record/Years: 22-4/2nd
Alma Mater/Year: Drake/1994
Basic Offense/Defense: Multiple/4-3
First Year of Football: 1899
All-Time Record: 534-464-51
Last Bowl Game: 2012 GoDaddy.com; NIU 38, Arkansas State 20
MAC Championship Game Appearances: 3 (last, 2011, 23-20 W)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 49/24
Starters Returning: 18 (4 offense, 10 defense, 4 specialists)
Starters Lost: 11 (7 offense, 4 defense, 0 specialists)
2012 NIU SCHEDULE
NORTHERN ILLINOIS FACTS
Location: DeKalb, Illinois
Affiliation: NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision
Conference: Mid-American (West Division)
Colors: Cardinal and Black
Stadium: Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium
Surface/Capacity: FieldTurf /24,000
President (Alma Mater, Year): Dr. John Peters (John Carroll 67)
Assoc. VP/Athletic Director: Jeff Compher
Alma Mater, Year: James Madison 80
Ticket Information: 815-752-6800
GOLDEN FLASHES' FACTS
2012 Record/MAC Record: 11-1/8-0
2011 Record/MAC Record/Finish: 5-7/4-4 MAC/3rd East
Head Coach: Darrell Hazell (Muskingum/1986)
Record at KSU/Year: 16-8/2nd
Career Record/Year: 16-8/2nd
Location: Kent, Ohio
Conference: Mid-American (West)
Colors: Navy Blue & Gold
Stadium: Dix Stadium
President: Dr. Lester A. Lefton
Athletic Director: Joel Nielsen
Athletics Website: www.kentstatesports.com
Facebook: Kent State University Golden Flashes
Ticket Information: 330-672-2244
KSU SCHEDULE & RESULTS
NIU-KENT STATE SERIES HISTORY
Overall: NIU leads 16-7
In Kent: NIU leads 6-5
In DeKalb: NIU leads 10-2
In MAC Games: NIU leads 14-3
Streak: Northern Illinois, 5
First Meeting: Nov. 18, 1949; KSU 21, NIU 19 (H)
Last Meeting: Oct. 8, 2011; NIU 40, KSU 10 (H)
NIU HEAD COACH Dave Doeren
In two seasons as head coach of the Northern Illinois Huskies, Dave Doeren owns a 22-4 record, a winning percentage of .846 and two Mid-American Conference West Division titles. With winning streaks of nine and 11 games, NIU owns the best record in the country over the last 21 games.
In Doeren's first year as a head coach, NIU won the school's first Mid-American Conference Championship since 1983, and triumphed in the GoDaddy.com Bowl to tie the school record with 11 wins. Doeren became the winningest first-year head coach in school history.
In 2012, NIU has a school-record 11-game winning streak and has locked up a spot in the MAC Championship game and a fifth consecutive bowl appearance. In addition, Northern Illinois has ranked in the top five in the nation in Academic Progress Rate (APR) in each of his two seasons with the Huskies.
Prior to coming to NIU, Doeren helped teams to eight bowl games and two national championship contests as an assistant at Wisconsin (2006-10), Kansas (2002-05), Montana (2000-01), USC (1998-99) and Drake (1995-97).
He came to NIU after completing his fifth season at Wisconsin in 2010 at the Rose Bowl with the Big Ten champion Badgers. After two seasons as UW's co-defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator, he was named defensive coordinator in January 2008. During Doeren's time there, Wisconsin posted a 49-16 record and played in four bowl games. His defenses were consistently ranked in the top 25.
Doeren arrived at UW after four seasons (2002-05) at the University of Kansas, where he was the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator for three seasons before being promoted to co-defensive coordinator in 2005.
Prior to his time at Kansas, Doeren coached the secondary at NCAA FCS power Montana for two seasons. Montana won the I-AA national championship in 2001 and went 28-3 with two conference titles in his time there.
He started his college coaching career as an assistant at Drake from 1995-97 where he coached linebackers, before becoming defensive coordinator in 1997. A four-year letterwinner at Drake (1990-93), Doeren earned Academic All-America honors as a senior and graduated with a bachelor's degree in pre-medical biology and a master's in educational leadership.
Watch the MAC Championship Game on ESPN2
- The Marathon MAC Championship Game will air nationally from Detroit's Ford Field on ESPN2.
- The broadcast crew includes Carter Blackburn on play-by-play, analyst Rod Gilmore and sideline reporter Jemele Hill.
Huskies-Flashes on Radio
- The Northern Illinois IMG Sports Network broadcast begins at 5:30 p.m. CT, 30 minutes before kickoff.
- NIU network affiliates in 2012 are: WLBK 1360 AM (DeKalb), WSCR 670 AM (Chicago), WTJK 1380 AM (Janesville, Wis.).
- Bill Baker is wrapping up his 32nd season as the play-by-play voice of the Huskies. He is joined by 27-year color analyst Mark Lindo and six-year sideline reporter Casey Kahler.
NIU Weekly Radio Show
- Weekly 30-minute show on WSCR 670 AM in Chicago, highlighting the best of Huskie Athletics
- The show airs Saturday mornings at 7:30 a.m.
- Hosted by Andy Garcia and NIU Associate Vice-President/Director of Athletics Jeff Compher
- Features a weekly interview with football head coach Dave Doeren, other NIU head coaches and the latest Huskie news
- Hear all NIU live radio broadcasts, including football and basketball games, Inside Huskie Football and NIU Weekly
- Watch live Huskie games, including football, volleyball, soccer, basketball, wrestling and gymnastics
- Also see weekly and post-game press conferences, video features and special events.
- Cost is $6.95/month or $49.95/year
- Go to www.NIUHuskies.com/allaccess
- On Twitter: @NIUAthletics, @NIUScores, @PrideinthePack
- On Facebook: NIU Huskies, Northern Illinois Football, Jordan Lynch for 6
- On YouTube: niuhuskiesdotcom
- See NIU Athletics' social media hub online to see all of our coaches' and teams' Facebook and Twitter accounts
NIU NEWS & NOTES
DESTINATION DETROIT: Northern Illinois makes its third-straight postseason trip to Detroit's Ford Field for the Mid-American Conference Championship game where the 11-1 Huskies will take on the 11-1 Kent State Golden Flashes Friday night, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.
GOOD TO BE BACK: Northern Illinois is the first team to play in three consecutive MAC Championship games since the league began playing the game at Ford Field in 2004. Former league member Marshall holds the all-time record with six consecutive appearances in the title game from 1997-2002, when the game was held on campus sites.
CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: NIU is 1-2 in its three previous appearances in Detroit and has won two Mid-American Conference titles all-time. The Huskies won their first title in 1983 under head coach Bill Mallory. Northern Illinois went 8-1 versus league teams and clinched the crown with a 26-14 win over Toledo. That 1983 team finished the season 10-2 after defeating Cal State Fullerton in the California Bowl.
CLOSE CALLS: Each of the Huskies' three previous appearances in the title game have been decided in the last minute. A year ago, NIU won its first MAC Championship since 1983 on Mathew Sims' 33-yard field goal on the last play of the game. In 2010, Miami converted a fourth-and-20 pass on its final drive and scored the game-winning touchdown with 33 seconds to play. In 2005, Akron's Luke Getsy hit Domenik Hixon with a 36-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds on the clock and Jason Swiger's PAT gave the Zips a 31-30 win and the championship.
11 STRAIGHT: NIU's 11-game winning streak is the school's longest as a Football Bowl Subdivision team (since 1969) and matches the longest winning streaks in school history. Northern Illinois won 11 games (over multiple seasons) in 1943-45, 1963-64, and 1964-66.
NEVER BEFORE: Northern Illinois has won 11 games in the regular season for the first time in school history and has matched its school record for wins in a season, set in each of the past two years.
SUCCESS STORY: Northern Illinois and Oregon are the only schools in the country to win 11 or more games in each of the last three seasons. The Huskies and Ducks, along with Alabama, Stanford and LSU, are the only FBS teams to have double digit wins in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
WINNINGEST CLASS: Northern Illinois' 2012 seniors will leave DeKalb as the winningest class in school history. The 2012 seniors have 40 wins and a spectacular 40-13 (.755) overall record since 2009. The 2012 seniors replaced their 2011 counterparts as the school's winningest group. Of the 15 seniors on the 2012 team, 11 are starters.
See page four for more on NIU's seniors.
STREAKING THROUGH THE MAC: The Huskies own the longest conference winning streak in the country with 16 straight victories over Mid-American Conference opponents, dating to Northern Illinois' first MAC game a year ago at Central Michigan (Oct. 1, 2011). NIU's league winning streak includes its win over Ohio in the 2011 MAC Championship game and a perfect 8-0 mark this year.
NATION'S BEST: Northern Illinois will take the longest home winning streak in the country into the 2013 season as NIU's victory over Toledo on Nov. 14 was its 21st straight at Huskie Stadium. The Huskies kept the streak alive with six wins at home in 2012 and have not lost a game in DeKalb since Sept. 26, 2009, when Idaho claimed a 34-31 win. Northern Illinois also has won 16 straight Mid-American Conference games at home, dating to a 33-30 overtime loss to Central Michigan on Nov. 12, 2008.
HUSKIES IN THE MAC: NIU is 116-90-2 all-time in MAC games with a 80-45 (.640) record since 1997. The Huskies have won 23 of their last 24 and 28 of their last 32 MAC regular season contests. Overall, Northern Illinois is in its 27th season as a member of the Mid-American Conference; the 2012 season is NIU's 16th in the MAC since rejoining the league in 1997.
DOUBLE-DIGIT Ws: Northern Illinois has hit double-digits in wins for a school-record third consecutive year and for the sixth time in school history. Dave Doeren is the first head coach to lead the Huskies to two 10-win seasons.
BOWL ELIGIBLE: Northern Illinois will extend the longest bowl streak in Huskie history to five in 2012 when bowl bids are extended on Sunday (Dec. 2). NIU has ended the last four seasons at bowl games with appearances in the Independence (2008), International (2009), Humanitarian (2010) and GoDaddy.com (2011) bowls.
RANKINGS RISE: A week after breaking into the Top 25 of the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' polls at No. 24 and No. 23, respectively, NIU jumped to the No. 19 (AP) and 18 (USA Today Coaches) spots in the Nov. 25 polls to earn its highest ranking since Oct. 19, 2003 when the Huskies were 12th (AP) and 14th (USA Today). This week marks the 13th week all-time that the Huskies have been ranked. NIU has finished each of the last two seasons ranked just outside the Top 25. See chart page 7.
AGAINST THE EAST: Since the beginning of the 2005 season, Northern Illinois is 20-6 against Mid-American Conference East Division opponents, including a 1-2 mark in the MAC Championship game. The Huskies have won 14 of their last 15 regular season meetings versus the MAC East dating back to 2008, with the lone loss a 38-31 Ohio victory in Athens on Nov. 21, 2009.
HUSKIES AND FLASHES: Northern Illinois and Kent State will play for the 24th time. NIU has won 16 of the last 19 games between the teams, and five straight, including last year's meeting in DeKalb. KSU's latest victory over the Huskies was at Kent in 2001, by a 44-34 score. KSU won the first four games ever played between the teams (in 1949-50 and 1966-67), but the Huskies own a 14-3 series edge in MAC games.
THE LAST MEETING: NIU defeated Kent State 40-10 last October in DeKalb in the last meeting between these teams as the Huskie defense played one of its best games of the season. Noseguard Nabal Jefferson opened the scoring by picking off a Spencer Keith screen pass and returning it 25 yards for a touchdown. NIU sacked KSU quarterbacks eight times and the Flashes gained just 64 yards on 62 plays in the game. Mathew Sims made four field goals in the second and third quarters and Jordan Lynch closed out the NIU scoring with an eight-yard TD run.
BIG FINISH: Northern Illinois closed out the regular season with a 49-7 victory over Eastern Michigan on a snowy, blustery "Black Friday" in Ypsilanti. Tailback Akeem Daniels scored on runs of 25, 20, 19 and 16 yards as he gained 112 yards on 12 carries in the game. Jordan Lynch recorded his 10th straight 100-yard rushing game with 107 yards on 20 carries, and hit Martel Moore nine times for 116 yards and one touchdown. Tommylee Lewis ignited NIU with a 93-yard kickoff return touchdown at the end of the first quarte. The Huskies held EMU to 94 rushing yards and just 227 yards of total offense.
KENT STATE KONNECTIONS: The second-year head coaches of this year's MAC Championship teams are acquainted from their pre-MAC days as KSU's Darrell Hazell (Ohio State) and NIU's Dave Doeren (Wisconsin) coached against each other in the Big Ten, as did Flashes' offensive coordinator Brian Rock, who spent five years at Purdue. NIU cornerbacks coach Richard McNutt spent two seasons coaching the defensive backs at Kent prior to coming to Northern Illinois in 2011.
ANOTHER STREAK: Add another streak to Northern Illinois' list that includes active overall, MAC, home, road and MAC home winning streaks. NIU enters the MAC Championship game with 11 straight November victories over the last three seasons. Northern Illinois has not lost a game in November since Nov. 27, 2009 when the Huskies fell to Central Michigan on the last day of the regular season.
SUSTAINED EXCELLENCE: Northern Illinois is one of the most consistently successful programs in the country, and especially among non-automatic qualifying Bowl Championship Subdivision (BCS) teams. NIU is one of only five teams from "non-AQ" BCS leagues to win six or more games in each of the last five seasons (since 2008). The others with that distinction are Air Force, TCU, BYU and Boise State. During that stretch, the Huskies have 46 wins, which ranks third among that group (Boise State - 59; TCU - 54; NIU - 46; BYU - 45; Air Force - 38)
NUMBERS UP: Northern Illinois' rankings in the NCAA statistics back up its spot in the AP and USA Today Top 25. NIU is ranked in the Top 50 nationally in seven of eight key offensive and defensive categories. The Huskies lead the MAC, and are in the Top 16 nationally in rushing offense (9th), total offense (16th) and scoring offense (12th). Defensively, NIU is second in the MAC and 15th nationally in pass efficiency defense and scoring defense. The Huskies are also 44th in rushing defense and 37th in total defense, and rank third in the MAC in both listings.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: The Northern Illinois defense has held four teams below 300 yards of total offense in 2012, while only two opponents gained less than 300 yards a year ago. Eastern Michigan collected 227 yards, to join UMass (267 yards), Akron (199) and Iowa (268) on the list. The Huskies have also held four teams below 100 rushing yards while six NIU opponents have thrown for less than 200 yards. Northern Illinois has accomplished this while playing with multiple line-ups on defense due to injury. Only four defensive players (DEs Alan Baxter and Sean Progar, NG Nabal Jefferson and DB Demetrius Stone) have started every game for NIU this season with Stone starting at two different positions.
BEST EVER?: With the MAC Championship game and a bowl game on the schedule, NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch is poised to become the number one rushing quarterback in NCAA FBS history. Lynch has demolished the NCAA record for consecutive 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback by FIVE games as his streak now stands at 10. He has run for 100-plus yards in 11` of the Huskies' 12 games this season. With 1,611 rushing yards to date, Lynch needs 92 yards to break the NCAA single season mark for rushing yards by a quarterback set by Michigan's Denard Robinson in 2010. Lynch and Robinson are the only QBs in FBS history to rush for more 1,500 yards and pass for more than 2,500 yards in a season.
COMPARE HIM WITH THE GREATS: In terms of his rushing numbers alone, Lynch's season now compares with that of some of Northern Illinois' most well-known TAILBACKS. The junior QB has broken NIU great Garrett Wolfe's 2004 school record for most consecutive 100-yard rushing games in a season. With 11 100-yard games, he also surpassed the record held by some of the best running backs in NIU history - Mark Kellar, LeShon Johnson and Michael Turner - for most 100-yard games in a season. Lynch's 1,611 rushing yards in 2012 rank seventh on the NIU single season rushing chart and are the most by a Huskie back since 2006, when Garrett Wolfe ran for 1,928 yards on 309 carries.
NO COMPARISON: No quarterback in the country can out-do Jordan Lynch when it comes to consistent excellence as BOTH a passer and a runner. Through the air, Lynch ranks 12th in the country and leads the MAC in passing efficiency with a 157.34 mark. He has completed 63.6 percent of his passes for 2,750 yards. Most impressively, he has thrown 23 touchdown passes and just four interceptions on the season. On the ground, Lynch is having one of the best seasons by any PLAYER in the country as he currently ranks fifth in the nation with 134.25 rushing yards per game. It adds up to a No. 3 ranking in total offense (363.4 yards/game) and more production out of the quarterback position than any single player. See pages 10-11 for Lynch's complete NCAA rankings.
CONSISTENCY: Jordan Lynch has displayed remarkable consistency in leading NIU to an 11-1 record in his first year as the Huskies' starter. Of course he has the NCAA record 11 100-yard rushing games, but he has also passed for 150-plus yards in each of the last 11 games. He has thrown for at least 190 yards in 10 games and been over the 200-yard mark eight times. Lynch has accounted for at least one touchdown in every NIU game, has two scores (passing or rushing) or more in 10 games, three TDs or more in eight games and at least four touchdowns in seven games.
THE FIRST: Versus Toledo, NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch became the first player in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) history to pass for more than 400 yards and rush for more than 150 yards in the same game. Lynch completed 25-of-36 passes for 407 yards, establishing career highs in all three categories. He also ran for 162 yards on a career-high 30 carries to account for a school-record 569 yards of total offense. Lynch's 407 passing yards are the fifth-highest single game total in Northern Illinois history and included a career-long 73-yard touchdown pass to Martel Moore.
QUITE A QUARTER: Jordan Lynch's numbers in the third quarter alone versus Toledo added up to a good month of offense for several SEC teams. Lynch completed 13-of-15 passes for 296 yards and two scores, and ran six times for 46 yards in the quarter to account for 342 total yards. He led NIU to three touchdowns, and directed drives of 97 and 99 yards, turning a 14-7 deficit into a 28-14 lead. His quarter began with a 73-yard connection between Lynch and Martel Moore, who made a spectacular play for the longest NIU pass play of the year.
HE PUNTS?: Jordan Lynch displayed a previously hidden skill when he surprised Toledo with a 63-yard pooch punt on fourth and four after lining up in a shotgun formation. Lynch's punt was the longest of the season for NIU and actually went one yard too long as it snuck into the end zone for a touchback.
NO EXPERIENCE, NO PROBLEM: After senior Logan Pegram was lost for the year in the preseason, Northern Illinois entered 2012 without a returning starter on the offensive line as only guard Jared Volk (two games) had ever started a game for the Huskies before. With the loss of left tackle Tyler Loos in the Toledo game, seven players make up the 2012 offensive line rotation, helping power a rushing attack that ranks ninth in the country and leads the MAC. NIU does not have a senior offensive lineman. Matt Krempel and Volk are juniors, Loos, Ryan Brown and Tyler Pitt are sophomores, while guards Matthew Killian and Aidan Conlon, and center Andrew Ness are redshirt freshmen.
TAILBACK TALK: Junior Akeem Daniels enjoyed a break-out day at Eastern Michigan as the veteran tailback, who has spent much of the season blocking for Jordan Lynch both in the passing and run games, rushed for a career-high 112 yards on 12 carries with four rushing touchdowns. Daniels, who is third on the team in rushing, is averaging 6.3 yards a carry in 2012. He became the first NIU back since 2006 to score four RUSHING touchdowns in a game as he scored on runs of 25, 20, 19 and 16 yards versus EMU. The last player to accomplish the feat was Garrett Wolfe, versus Indiana State on Sept. 23, 2006.
RETURN MAN: NIU sophomore Tommylee Lewis scored on a 93-yard kickoff return versus Eastern Michigan to take sole possession of the Northern Illinois career record for KOR touchdowns with three. Lewis, who scored a pair of TDs on kickoff returns a year ago (both versus Toledo), followed the blocks of fellow returner A.J. Sebastiano and a pack of Huskies en route to the end zone. The eighth-longest kickoff return in NIU history came seconds after EMU's only touchdown of the game and put Northern Illinois ahead to stay.
A GRAND MAN: With 116 yards receiving on a career-high nine catches at Eastern Michigan, Martel Moore became only the sixth receiver in NIU history to reach the 1,000-yard mark in single season receiving yards, and is the first NIU player since 2005 (Sam Hurd) to get to 1,000. Moore's 1,015 yards rank sixth, while his 67 catches are fifth all-time in a single season and his 11 touchdown catches are tied for third. Moore has caught at least one pass in 18 straight games, and has a touchdown catch in each of NIU's last three games and in nine of the Huskies' 12 games this season. He had a 43-yard touchdown reception against the Eagles on a fourth-down play in the closing minutes of the first half, while his 73-yard touchdown catch-and-run against Toledo was the longest pass play for NIU this year.
SIX PACK: With his 116-yard receiving performance at Eastern Michigan, Martel Moore has six 100-yard games on the season, tying Dave Petzke (1978) and Justin McCareins (200) for the NIU single season record. He has 10 100-yard receiving games in his career, three shy of the record held by McCareins (1997-2000).
BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO: Senior cornerback Rashaan Melvin broke up a career-high four passes at Eastern Michigan, giving him 15 pass break-ups this season to tiee the NIU single season record. Melvin tied Randee Drew (2003) and Chris Smith (2010). The senior has 32 career pass break-ups, which ranks second all-time behind only Randee Drew (38 from 2000-03). Melvin's previous single game best was three which he achieved against Central Michigan and Akron earlier this season.
SACK LUNCH: Northern Illinois, along with Bowling Green, leads the Mid-American Conference and rank tied for ninth in the nation in in quarterback sacks. The Huskies' 36 sacks are the second-highest single season total in school history. Defensive ends Alan Baxter and Sean Progar rank second and third, respectively, in the league in sacks. Baxter, who has sacks in four of NIU's last six games, leads the Huskies with nine, while Progar has tallied 8.5. Both rank on Northern Illinois' career sack list as Baxter is ninth with 15.5 while Progar ranks third all-time with 23.5
LONGEVITY: NIU senior defensive end Sean Progar plays in his 53rd game, and will make his 47th start in the 2012 MAC Championship game to lead all current Huskie players. Progar is one game away from Trevor Olson's all-time NIU mark of 54 games played. Progar, his defensive linemates Nabal Jefferson (51 games) and Alan Baxter (50), and receiver Martel Moore (52) have each played in 50-plus games for NIU during their careers.
FOURTH AND WATCH OUT!: Northern Illinois has converted 16 of its 21 tries on fourth down to rank fifth in the country in fourth-down conversion percentage, but it is the way NIU has converted that is noteworthy. Seven of NIU's 16 successful fourth-down plays (44%) have resulted in a Huskie touchdown, including Lynch touchdown runs of 29 and 35 yards, and a 43-yard pass play to Martel Moore. The Huskies have had six plays of 10 yards or longer to convert fourth downs this year.
ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT: Northern Illinois joined Duke, Penn State and Nebraska as one of only four schools in the country to place four players on the 2012 Capital One Academic All-District Team for its region. NIU defensive linemen Alan Baxter and Nabal Jefferson, tight end Jason Schepler and fullback Rob Sterling all earned first team All-District V recognition and are eligible for the Capital One Academic All-America team, which will be announced in early December. Baxter carries a 3.61 GPA in finance; Shepler has a 3.86 in electrical engineering and Sterling, the only non-senior in the group, has a 3.64 GPA in accountancy. Jefferson, already the winner of a NFF Scholar-Athlete Award, has a 3.78 in accountancy.
MAC POTWs: Add Tommylee Lewis to the list of Huskies who have earned MAC West Player of the Week honors in 2012 as he picked up the Specialist award following his 93-yard kickoff return versus Eastern Michigan. Seven NIU players have claimed a weekly honor 12 times as at least one Huskie has won in 12 of the 13 weeks. Jordan Lynch has been named the MAC West Offensive Player of the Week honor four times, kicker Mathew Sims (Specialist) has been honored twice (versus Central Michigan, Western Michigan) as has defensive end Sean Progar (Iowa, Western Michigan). Defensive tackle Ken Bishop picked up MAC West Defensive Player of the Week honors following the UMass game and DBs Jimmie Ward (UT Martin) and Marlon Moore (Buffalo) have also been honored by the MAC.
MMM...PANCAKES: Tight end Jason Schepler continues to pile up the pancake blocks as his return from tearing his ACL twice over the last 18 months has keyed the Huskies' rushing success. Schepler, a dominating blocker on the edge and leads NIU in pancakes. Northern Illinois leads the MAC and ranks 10th nationally in rushing with 245.0 yards per game while running behind Schepler, the only fifth-year senior on the Huskie offense.
STAFF TRANSITION: On Sept. 3, Northern Illinois announced that first-year offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar's duties would be reassigned so that he could focus on his battle with cancer. Offensive line coach Rod Carey took over game-planning and play-calling duties beginning with the UT Martin game. Joe Tripodi, a third-year graduate assistant who coaches the Huskie tight ends and fullbacks, was elevated to a full-time assistant position and added recruiting responsibilities.