Dec. 3, 2013
2013 Marathon MAC Championship Game
Bowling Green Falcons (9-3, 7-1) vs. NIU Huskies (12-0, 8-0)
Dec. 6, 2013 | 7 p.m. (CT) | ESPN2 | Detroit, Mich. | Ford Field | 65,000
The Last Meeting
November 8, 2011
Bowling Green, Ohio
Northern Illinois Defeats Bowling Green, 45-14, For Fifth Straight Win
Northern Illinois played what NIU head coach Dave Doeren called its "most complete road game" of the season to defeat Bowling Green, 45-14, Tuesday night and win its fifth consecutive game. With the win, the Huskies improved to 7-3 overall and 5-1 in the Mid-American Conference while Bowling Green fell to 4-6, 2-4.
-- 2013 NIU NUMBERS TO KNOW --
0 - FBS teams with MORE wins than NIU
2 - Wins over Big Ten teams
2 - Victories over 10-win teams
7 - 2013 ROAD wins*
12 - Consecutive wins
15 - Consecutive road wins*
25 - Consecutive wins in MAC Games*
26 - Consecutive wins at Huskie Stadium*
46 - Wins over last four seasons*
*Leads the Nation (FBS)
-- ACTIVE STREAKS --
Ohio State 24
Florida State 14
Northern Illinois 12
Wins at Home Stadium
Northern Illinois 26
South Carolina 18
Northern Illinois 15
Ohio State 9
Florida State 8
Northern Illinois (MAC) 25
Ohio State (Big Ten) 16
Florida State (ACC) 14
Jordan Lynch FOR 6
Heisman Trophy candidate Jordan Lynch is the only player in the nation who is the true number one option for his team as a passer and as a runner. In November, Lynch has led NIU on 94 and 99-yard fourth-quarter drives to defeat Ball State and Toledo. He is accounting for 64.7 percent of the NIU offense with 4,212 yards and 43 touchdowns this season. Lynch is now 25-2 as the Huskies' starting QB, and has never lost either a Mid-American Conference game, a true road game or a home game as the NIU starter. He ranks third all-time at NIU in rushing yards, behind ONLY Huskie greats Garrett Wolfe and Michael Turner. See his bio in this release, check out his highlights and more at www.LynchFor6.com. Follow @LynchFor6 on Twitter for daily #LynchLines.
-- NIU remained at No. 14 in the latest BCS standings this week but gained ground in the polls and is ranked 15th (Harris), 16th (Associated Press) and 18th (USA Today Coaches) as the Huskies rose two spots in each poll.
-- NIU is the ONLY team in the Football Bowl Subdivision with SEVEN road wins.
-- Northern Illinois is one of just THREE undefeated teams remaining in the FBS.
-- The 2013 Huskies have posted the school's first undefeated regular season as a major college program.
-- With its 12th consecutive win, Northern Illinois has tied last year's team for the longest winning streak in school history.
-- NIU is playing in its fourth-straight Mid-American Conference Championship game and making its fifth championship game appearance overall.
-- NIU is the FIRST MAC team ever to defeat TWO Big Ten teams in the same regular season.
-- Heisman Trophy candidate Jordan Lynch leads a Huskie offense that is averaging a school-record 42.8 points per game.
-- The Huskies have won 24 of their last 25 games.
-- NIU has won 25 straight conference games, the longest streak in the country.
-- The Huskies have won 26 straight games at their home stadium, the longest such winning streak in the nation.
-- The Huskies' 15-game road winning streak is the longest in the FBS.
-- NIU first-year head coach Rod Carey is 12-1 since taking over prior to the Orange Bowl a year ago.
HUSKIE FOOTBALL FACTS
2012 Record/MAC Record/Finish: 12-2/8-0/1st West
2012 Final Ranking: 22 (AP); 24 (USA Today Coaches)
Head Coach: Rod Carey
Record at NIU & Career Record/Years: 12-1/1st
Alma Mater/Year: Indiana/1993
Basic Offense/Defense: Multiple/4-3
First Year of Football: 1899
All-Time Record: 547-465-51
Last Bowl Game: 2013 Discover Orange Bowl (Florida State 31, NIU 10)
Consecutive Bowl Games: 5
MAC Championship Games: 4 (last, 2012, 44-37 W 2OT)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 54/16
Starters Returning: 16 (8 offense, 5 defense, 3 specialists)
Starters Lost: 11 (3 offense, 7 defense, 1 specialists)
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: Dr. Douglas D. Baker
Assoc. VP/Athletic Director: Sean Frazier
Alma Mater, Year: Alabama `92
Ticket Information: 815-753-PACK (7225)
Web: NIUHuskies.com; http://www.jordanlynchfor6.com/JordanLynchfor6.com
Twitter: @NIUAthletics, @Lynchfor6, @PrideinthePack, @NIUscores
Facebook: NIU Huskies, Northern Illinois Football
NIU 2013 SCHEDULE
BOWLING GREEN FALCONS' FACTS
2013 Record/Conference Record: 9-3/7-1
2012 Record/MAC Record/Finish: 8-5/6-2/2nd East
Head Coach: Dave Clawson
Alma Mater/Year: Williams (Mass.) College `89
Record at BG/Year: 31-31/5th
Career Record/Year: 89-80/14th
Location: Bowling Green, Ohio
Conference: Mid-American (East)
Colors: Orange & Brown
Stadium: Doyt L. Perry
President: Dr. Mary Ellen Mazey
Athletic Director: Chris Kingston
Athletics Website: www.bgsufalcons.com
Twitter/Facebook: @BGAthletics/BGSU Athletics
Ticket Information: 419-372-0000; 877-247-8842
NIU-BGSU SERIES HISTORY
Overall: BGSU leads 10-7
In DeKalb: NIU leads 5-3
In Bowling Green: BGSU leads 7-2
In MAC Games: BGSU leads 7-5
Streak: Northern Illinois, 3
First Meeting: Nov. 18, 1967; BGSU 17, NIU 7 (A)
Last Meeting: Nov. 8, 2011; NIU 45, BGSU 14 (A)
NIU HEAD COACH Rod Carey
Promoted to head coach prior to the 2013 Orange Bowl after serving as NIU's offensive coordinator during most of the 2012 season, Rod Carey has led the Huskies to its first undefeated regular season of the modern era in his first campaign as NIU's head coach. The 41-year-old Carey coached the Northern Illinois offensive line in 2011 before adding coordinator duties a year ago. On the same day Carey was introduced as head coach last December, the Huskies made history as the first Mid-American Conference team invited to a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game. Carey coached NIU in the Orange Bowl, a 31-10 loss to Florida State. This season, Carey has led NIU to a perfect 12-0 record and a No. 14 BCS national ranking. Heisman Trophy candidate Jordan Lynch leads one of the top offenses in the nation and Carey is the first NIU or MAC coach to win two Big Ten games in the same season. Carey spent his first two seasons at NIU helping guide two of the most prolific offenses in school history as the Huskies won back-to-back MAC championships and 11-or-more games each year. In 2012, he added run game coordinator to his duties as offensive line coach. In the midst of replacing five starters on the offensive line, Carey assumed offensive coordinator duties after the season opener. In 2011, Carey mentored two All-Americans in center Scott Wedige and left tackle Trevor Olson, and three all-MAC players. A three-year starter at center for Indiana, Carey served as a team captain and won the Corby Davis Outstanding Offensive Player Award as a senior, playing for former NIU head coach Bill Mallory. He earned his bachelor's degree from IU in 1994. Carey came to NIU after three seasons as the offensive line coach at North Dakota. His line paved the way for UND 1,000-yard rusher Josh Murray (1,146 yards) in 2008 and for the No. 2 running back in the Great West Conference a year later. Five of Carey's offensive linemen earned GWC all-conference honors in his last three seasons. Prior to going to North Dakota, Carey spent the 2007 season as the offensive line coach at Illinois State. From 2000-06, Carey coached at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, where he was the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. His offensive units averaged nearly 400 yards per game during his seven seasons and set 14 records, including the all-time conference rushing record. In all, Carey coached 26 all-conference selections and seven All-Americans at UW-Stout. A native of Wayzata, Minn., Carey began his collegiate coaching career at the University of Minnesota (1998-99) where he helped the Gophers to the 1999 Sun Bowl. Prior to UM, he spent four seasons at his alma mater, Wayzata (Minn.) High School, from 1994-97. Carey and his wife Tonya are the parents of daughter Kennedi (8) and son Charlie (6).
FOLLOW THE HUSKIES
ESPN2 to Televise MAC Championship Game
- The Marathon MAC Championship game will air nationally on ESPN2.
- Carter Blackburn will handle the play-by-play call of the game with Danny Kanell as the color analyst and Allison Williams on the sidelines.
- The game is also available on WatchESPN.
- NIU will appear on ESPN2 for the fourth consecutive week and fifth time this season.
Huskies-Falcons on Radio
- The Northern Illinois IMG Sports Network broadcast begins at 6:30 p.m. CT, 30 minutes before kickoff.
- NIU network affiliates that will carry the MAC Championship game are WLBK 1360 AM and 98.9 FM (DeKalb), WTJK 1380 AM (Janesville, Wis.) and WSCR AM 670 (Chicago) and online on NIUTube at NIUHuskies.com.
- Play-by-play man Bill Baker is in his 34th season as the Voice of the Huskies and is joined by 28-year color analyst Mark Lindo and Andy Garcia, who is in his first season on the sidelines.
NIU Radio Shows
- "NIU Weekly" is a 30-minute show highlighting the best of Huskie Athletics hosted by Andy Garcia and Associate Vice-President/Athletic Director Sean Frazier.
- The show airs on WSCR AM 670 The Score in Chicago Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. and at 6:30 p.m. Friday nights on WLBK 1360 AM/98.9 FM in DeKalb.
- Hear from Huskie administrators and head coaches.
Postseason Central on NIUHuskies.com
- Postseason Central on NIUHuskies.com gathers all of the latest information on the Huskies' postseason plans in one place online.
- Sign up for a fan or student bus trip to the MAC Championship game, the NIU pregame reception and more on www.niusportstravel.com
NIUTube (formerly Huskie All-Access)
- Hear all NIU live radio broadcasts, including football and basketball games and NIU radio shows.
- Watch live Huskie games and see weekly and post-game press conferences, video features and more.
- Cost is $6.95/month or $49.95/year.
- Go to www.NIUHuskies.com/allaccess.
- Twitter: @NIUAthletics, @NIUScores, @PrideinthePack
- Facebook: NIU Huskies, Northern Illinois Football, Jordan Lynch for 6
- YouTube: niuhuskiesdotcom
- See NIU Athletics' social media hub online to see all of our coaches' and teams' Facebook and Twitter accounts
NIU NEWS & NOTES
FOUR AT THE FORD: For the fourth consecutive season and fifth time overall, NIU completes its pre-bowl schedule with a trip to Detroit's Ford Field for the Marathon MAC Championship Game. No. 14 NIU will face its fourth different MAC East opponent when the Huskies take on the Bowling Green Falcons (9-3, 7-1 MAC) Friday night, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on ESPN2.
DETROIT BOUND: NIU clinched this year's trip to the Marathon Mid-American Conference Championship with a 35-17 victory at Toledo November 20. The Huskies are the first team to appear in four consecutive MAC title games since Marshall went to six consecutive MAC Championship games from 1997-2002 when the game was held on campus sites. NIU has at least tied for the Division crown for the ninth time and the 2013 game is the fifth championship game appearance for the Huskies (2005, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013).
DOWN TO THREE: NIU is one of only three undefeated teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision following losses by Fresno State and Alabama on the road last week. The undefeated list now includes only Florida State (ACC), Ohio State (Big Ten) and NIU.
UNBLEMISHED: NIU's 12-0 record is the best in school history, surpassing the 1963 NIU College Division National Championship team that went 10-0 behind College Football Hall of Famer George Bork. The 1951 (9-0) and 1944 (7-0) Northern Illinois teams also were undefeated. With the Huskies' win over Western Michigan, the 2013 team matched tied the school record 12-game streak posted by last year's team.
THE BEST: Since the start of the 2010 season, no FBS team has won more games than NIU. Northern Illinois has won 46 games (under three head coaches) over the past four seasons to rank tied with Alabama and Oregon for the most wins. NIU is 46-8, while the Crimson Tide and Ducks are 46-6.
DOWN TO THE WIRE: Each of the Huskies' four previous appearances in the league title game at Ford Field have been decided in the last minute. 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. 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 2011, NIU claimed its first MAC title since 1983 on Mathew Sims' 33-yard field goal on the last play of the game to defeat Ohio, 23-20. And a year ago, NIU won the first MAC Championship game to go to overtime with a 44-37 victory over Kent State in the second extra period. Jordan Lynch scored on a two-yard run on the Huskies' possession and Demetrius Stone intercepted KSU QB Spencer Keith's pass in the end zone to end the game.
CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: NIU is 2-2 in four previous MAC Championship games in Detroit and has won the last two titles. NIU has won three Mid-American Conference titles all-time, as the Huskies' first MAC crown came in 1983 under head coach Bill Mallory (Rod Carey's college coach). That season, NIU went 8-1 versus league teams and clinched the championship with a 26-14 win over Toledo.
AT THE HELM: Rod Carey is the fourth different head coach to lead NIU into a MAC Championship game in Detroit all-time, and is the third Huskie head coach in the last four seasons to bring his team here. Carey is coaching in his third consecutive MAC Championship game in his third different role. He was the offensive line coach for the 2011 Huskies, served as the offensive coordinator and O-line coach a year ago and brings his 2013 squad in as head coach.
HUSKIES AND THE RANKINGS: NIU is ranked No. 14 in this week's Bowl Championship Series Rankings for the second consecutive week with an average of .481. The Huskies are the top-rated team from a non-automatic qualifying conference, sandwiched between No. 13 Clemson and No. 15 LSU. Northern Illinois' BCS ranking is its highest since the Huskies' made their debut in the rankings on Oct. 19, 2003 at No. 10. NIU's average ranking by the computers used to determine the BCS numbers is 10 and the Huskies rose in all three polls this week.
TOP CLASS: For the third consecutive season, NIU's seniors are the winningest class in school history. With the Huskies' win over Eastern Michigan on Oct. 26, the 2013 seniors unseated the 2012 group atop the wins list. The 2013 seniors have been on teams that won 11 games in both 2010 and 2011, and have matched their 12 victories of a year ago in 2013. The seniors own a winning percentage of .852 with an overall record of 46-8 and NEVER LOST a game at Huskie Stadium (22-0). The 2012 seniors were 41-13 (.759) between 2009-2012 and the 2011 class went 35-19 (.648). Both the 2011 and 2012 seniors' final years included MAC Championships.
MAC STREAKING: The Huskies bring the nation's longest winning streak in conference games into the Marathon MAC title game. NIU has won 25 consecutive Mid-American Conference games and posted its second consecutive 8-0 MAC regular season mark. Central Michigan was the last MAC team to defeat the Huskies with a 48-41 victory in NIU's 2011 league opener in Mt. Pleasant. NIU won the remainder of its MAC games in 2011, as well as the title game, then swept through conference play in 2012 before defeating Kent State in Detroit.
HOME IS SWEET: The Huskies will go into 2014 with the longest winning streak by a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team in its home stadium. NIU's 26 consecutive wins at Huskie Stadium is a school and Mid-American Conference record. Ninety-six players on NIU's 2013 team have NEVER lost on Brigham Field. NIU went 5-0 at home in 2013 to record its fourth straight unbeaten campaign in DeKalb. The Huskies' last loss in DeKalb occurred Sept. 26, 2009, a 34-31 loss to Idaho.
FAMILIAR PLACE: Six players on the Huskie roster will be playing in their FOURTH MAC Championship game on Friday as QB Jordan Lynch, DE George Rainey, OG Jared Volk, S Jimmie Ward, S Dominique Ward and DE Joe Windsor will make their fourth trek to the Motor City with the Huskies. In all, 38 players on the 2013 have played in at least one previous MAC title game and 29 have seen action in two MAC games.
HUSKIES IN THE MAC: NIU is 123-90-2 (.577) all-time in MAC games with an 87-45 (.659) record in Mid-American Conference play since re-joining the league in 1997. The Huskies have won 30 of their last 31 and 35 of their last 39 MAC regular season contests. Northern Illinois is completing its 28th season as a member of the league in 2013-14.
ANOTHER STREAK: NIU has won each of its last nine games to be broadcast on ESPN2. The Huskies are 4-0 on ESPN2 in 2013 with wins at Purdue (Sept. 28), versus Ball State (Nov. 13), at Toledo (Nov. 20) and versus Western Michigan (Nov. 26). The MAC Championship game will mark NIU's fifth appearance in five weeks on the network. The Huskies last loss on ESPN2 came in the 2010 MAC Championship against Miami (Ohio).
SERIES SUMMARY: The Huskies and Falcons meet for just the 18th time. Bowling Green leads the all-time series 10-7, but NIU has won the last three meetings including most recently a 45-14 victory in Bowling Green in 2011. BG's last win over NIU came in 2003 when the teams met as MAC West foes in one of the biggest games in league history. Bowling Green claimed the win and eventually a spot in the MAC Championship game.
CONSISTENCY: After putting points on the board in every quarter versus Western Michigan, NIU has now scored in 46 of 48 quarters (95.8 percent) this season. The Huskies have been held to three points or less in a quarter only five times with at least six points in every other period of every other game this season. NIU had a string of 21 straight quarters with a score snapped in the second period versus Akron, and put points on the board in 19 straight periods before missing a pair of field goals in the second quarter at Toledo. Offensively, the Huskies' scoring has been consistent with 123 points scored in both the first and third quarters and 124 i nthe third. NIU's top scoring quarter is the second with 144 points.
IS IT THE HALFTIME SNACKS?: In NINE of the Huskies' 12 games this season, opponents have scored seven points or less after halftime. The NIU defense limited Iowa, Central Michigan, Ball State and UMass to field goals, with UMass the only team to score two three-pointers in that group. Idaho, Kent State, Akron, Toledo and Western Michigan scored just one touchdown apiece after halftime. Of the opponents who scored more than seven second-half points, the points put up by Purdue (14) and Eastern Michigan (17) came in blowout Huskie wins against NIU back-ups. Overall, teams are averaging just 8.2 points in the second half against NIU (99 points in 12 games).
NOBODY DOES BOTH BETTER: No player in the country can compare to Jordan Lynch when it comes to what he does for his team as a passer and as a rusher, not to mention as a leader. (Don't even get us started on his punting and receiving.) Start with his 2,457 passing yards on 212-of-329 passing (64.5 percent) with 22 touchdowns to just five interceptions. Add his status as the number three rusher in the country with 1,755 yards on 248 carries (7.1 yards per carry) and 20 scores on the ground, and you have a player whose abilities have lifted NIU to a 12-0 record.
CHECK THE NUMBERS: Need proof? Jordan Lynch's offensive production has been equal to that of TWO PLAYERS - the number one passer AND number one rusher on most of the other top teams in the country. His 4,212 yards are also more than 21 FBS teams. The chart below compares the total offense yardage numbers for some of the nation's top quarterbacks and the rushing totals for each of their team's top rushers to Lynch's totals.
Team QB (Total Offense) RB (Rushing Yards) Total Offense
NIU Jordan Lynch (4,212) Jordan Lynch (1,755) 4,212
Florida State Jameis Winston (3,624) Devonta Freeman (852) 4,476
Ohio State Braxton Miller (2,650) Carlos Hyde (1,290) 3,940
Alabama A.J. McCarron (2,697) T.J. Yeldon (1,163) 3,860
300, AGAIN?: For the second time this season, NIU's Jordan Lynch broke the NCAA FBS record for rushing yards by a quarterback when he ran for 321 yards on 27 carries versus Western Michigan. Lynch broke the record he had set on Oct. 19 at Central Michigan when he ran for 316 yards on 32 carries with three rushing scores. Versus WMU, Lynch scored on runs of 29, 36 and 37 yards and averaged 11.6 yards per rush. At CMU, Lynch picked up 232 yards on 18 carries in the second half with runs of 28, 40, 40 and 49 yards. Lynch broke the mark set by Huskie signal-caller Stacey Robinson, who ran for 308 yards versus Fresno State on Oct. 6, 1990. Lynch, the fourth Huskie to go over the 300-yard mark, owns two of the Huskies' seven 300-yard rushing games.
HE OWNS IT: NIU's Jordan Lynch has been named the MAC West Player of the Week a record eight times in 2013 and 12 times in his career. Lynch finished the season by being named the Player of the Week after each of his last four games. In all, five different NIU players have won a MAC West Player of the Week Award 13 times with Tommylee Lewis and Ken Bishop winning twice each and Mathew Sims (at Iowa) and Cameron Stingily (versus Kent State) honored once.
WOLFE, TURNER, LYNCH: Quarterback Jordan Lynch ranks third on the Huskies' all-time rushing list after just two seasons as a starter. In 108 years of Huskie football, Lynch's 4,178 rushing yards rank behind ONLY All-Americans Michael Turner (4,941) and Garrett Wolfe (5,164) on the NIU career charts. NIU's reputation as a rushing powerhouse dates back to the days when Mark Kellar led the NCAA in rushing in 1973, and includes LeShon Johnson (1993) and Garrett Wolfe (2006), who also led the nation in those seasons. Lynch needs one touchdown to become the Huskies' all-time leader in scoring and in touchdowns.
GROUND AND POUND: Jordan Lynch is close to breaking two more NCAA quarterback rushing records. With 61 rushing yards, he will break the single-season record for most yards by a quarterback of 1,815, which he set in 2012. Additionally, Lynch is on pace to break the NCAA record for most rushing yards gained per game by a quarterback. Averaging 146.25 yards/game, the Chicago, Ill., native needs 147 yards to clinch the record currently held by Beau Morgan ofs Air Force (135.8 YPG in 1996).
SETTLING A SCORE: With one more rushing touchdown, Lynch will tie or break three single-season school records. For starters, a touchdown will give Lynch sole possession for the most touchdowns responsible for in a season with 45, topping his own mark from last season. He will also tie two other records currently held by former RB Chad Spann in scoring (132) and touchdowns scored (22). Over the last four games, Lynch has found the endzone 12 times on the ground.
NEVER BEFORE: Hard to believe that in all of its years built to run, Northern Illinois has NEVER had two players rush for 1,000 yards in the same season...until 2013. Tailback Cameron Stingily joined Lynch in the 1,000-yard club with 49 yards on 14 carries versus WMU to give him 1,007 yards on 180 carries in 2013. Stingily, who has three 100-yard games this season, gained 146 yards on 18 carries at Toledo and picked up a career-best 266 yards on 37 carries at Kent State. NIU players have rushed for at least 1,000 yards in a season 28 times in school history (including this year).
40-40/250-250: With 12 rushing touchdowns in NIU's last four games, Jordan Lynch has become the ninth quarterback in NCAA FBS history to accumulate at least 40 rushing AND 40 passing touchdowns in his career. Lynch enters the MAC Championship Game with 45 career rushing, 49 career passing and one career receiving touchdown. He is one of only eight players to score 250 points and pass for 250 points. Denard Robinson of Michigan was the last player to go 40-40 and 250-250.
THE 15TH WARD: Senior safety Jimmie Ward will not only be remembered as one of the best defensive backs in NIU history, but also one of the most experienced players overall. When he takes the field Friday night in Detroit, he will tie the program record for most games played in a career with 54, held by former teammates Martel Moore and Sean Progar. Ward, who was named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in October, has also been selected to play in the 2014 Reese's Senior Bowl, which will take place Jan. 25, 2014, in his hometown of Mobile, Ala.
BALL HAWK: NIU senior safety Jimmie Ward continues to play at an elite level. After a spectacular interception at Toledo, Ward has six INTs on the season, the most in a single season by an NIU player since 2003, when Randee Drew picked off six passes. He ranks tied for fifth in the country in interceptions. The senior, who often draws the assignment of covering the opponent's top receiver, leads NIU in tackles with 77 and has broken up eight passes after knocking down three versus Western Michigan. The first Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist in school history, Ward was also named to SI.com's Midseason All-America team. He returned an interception at Purdue 62 yards for a touchdown and set up the Huskies' game-winning field goal at Iowa by intercepting Iowa QB Jake Rudock with 1:17 to play.
PICKS FOR THE PACK: NIU has intercepted 17 passes in 2013, the highest total by a Northern Illinois team since the 2003 Huskies intercepted 23 passes. NIU currently ranks 12th in the country in interceptions. Safeties Jimmie Ward (6), Dechane Durante (3) and Dominique Ware (2) have accounted for 11 interceptions. In NIU's last three games, cornerback Paris Logan, defensive end Joe Windsor and linebacker Boomer Mays have each recorded their first career interceptions. Mays' INT came in the end zone and stopped a Toledo first half drive, while Windsor returned his pick versus Ball State for 49 yards and a touchdown.
PICK POCKETS: While most of the attention has been on NIU's offense this season, the Huskie defense has quietly made a name for themselves in the turnover department. The opportunistic unit ranks eighth nationally with a +14 turnover margin and sits 11th in the country with 27 takeaways. A big part of this number has been the Huskies' fondness for interceptions, as they have picked off 17 passes to lead the MAC and rank 12th in the NCAA. The NIU defense has forced at least one turnover in 11 of their 12 games this season and have notched three or more takeaways in five games.
NO SACKS FOR YOU: Through 12 games, NIU is tied for second in the nation with only eight sacks allowed. The O-line also has posted six games with no sacks allowed and four others with only one opponent sack. The line powers a Huskie offense ranked fourth overall (542.3 yards/game), fourth in rushing (318.9) and ninth in scoring (42.8 points/game). With the loss of left tackle Tyler Loos, who suffered a dislocated ankle and broken leg versus UMass, the Huskies offensive line now consists of tackles Matt Krempel (RT) and Ryan Brown (LT), guards Jared Volk (LG) and Aidan Conlon (RG) and center Andrew Ness. Junior Tyler Pitt rotates in at guard, just as Krempel did prior to the injury to Loos.
RECORDS IN REACH: Behind Jordan Lynch, the NIU offense is on the verge of making its case as the best offense in school history. NIU's offensive numbers so far this season rank in the all-time top 10 in 17 different categories and are in the top five in 12. The Huskies' 42.8 points per game average is four points better than the 38.6 ppg put up by the 2012 Huskies. With 542.3 yards of total offense per game, NIU is well ahead of 2011's 476 yards per game. Last week against WMU, the Huskies broke the single-season record for team rushing yards (3,827) and rushing first downs (194). Among the most significant records in reach, the 2013 Huskies need 164 total yards, 35 completions and five passing touchdowns.
NO SENIORS: Of the 19 players who have caught a pass for NIU this year, only one - quarterback Jordan Lynch (on a 17-yard TD catch from Tommylee Lewis versus Eastern Michigan) - is a senior. The Huskies do not have a single (active) senior wide receiver, running back, fullback or tight end on the roster in 2013. The receptions by class are led by NIU's juniors with Lewis (74) and Da'Ron Brown (42) combining for 116 catches for 1,312 of NIU's 2,642 receiving yards (49.7 percent). With those two players sitting out the last two games, sophomore Juwan Brescacin stepped up, especially in the Toledo game, with eight catches for 121 yards.
BROWN'S BIG DAY: Junior receiver Da'Ron Brown had the best day of his NIU career with eight catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns versus Ball State. Brown caught touchdown passes of 58 and 36 yards, and added a 54-yard reception. Brown became the seventh NIU receiver to have a 200-yard receiving game, and the first player since Martel Moore had a 224-yard game versus Arkansas State in the 2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl. Moore's 209 yard total ranks seventh on the Huskie single game chart.
PRESSURE IS A PRIVILEGE: In the preseason, NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch used the phrase "pressure is a privilege" to describe how he approaches the expectations for himself and for the 2013 Huskies. Based on NIU's success in close games over the last two seasons, the team has embraced that motto as the Huskies are 7-0 in their last seven games decided by seven points or less. NIU has won three of those games this season over Akron (27-20), Eastern Illinois (43-39) and Iowa (30-27)
THE HARD WAY: Over the years, the NIU football program has embraced the motto "The Hard Way," long used by NIU coaches to describe the Huskies' ability to battle adversity and overcome obstacles en route to earning team success. Use of the phrase dates back to the Joe Novak era (1996-2007), and it is prominently used in the team's postgame chant. Versus WMU on Nov. 26, the words were used on the backs of the Huskies special BlackOut jerseys.
STINGILY AND THE YAC: According to the NIU coaches, 72 percent of tailback Cameron Stingily's rushing yards (728 of 1,007) have come after the first contact with a defender. Approximately 4.0 of his 5.6 yards per rush are "YAC" (Yards After Contact). In the Kent State game, where Stingily gashed the Flashes for 266 yards on 37 carries, Stingily totaled 195 YAC yards, an average of an extra 5.3 yards and he had 100 YAC (of 146) versus Toledo.
HOT, HOT, HOT: Over the last half of the season, Huskie quarterback Jordan Lynch has run for 1,139 yards on 142 carries with 16 touchdowns, completed 94-of-134 passes for 1,124 yards and nine scores to total 2,263 yards on 276 plays. He is averaging 189.8 rushing yards per game, 8.02 yards per carry and is completing 70.1 percent of his passes. Northern Illinois is gaining 8.2 yards every time he touches the ball over the last six games.
BEST AGAINST THE BEST: Jordan Lynch recorded the best completion percentage of his career, and was one completion away from the NIU single game record, with his 26-of-32 passing performance in the Huskies' critical MAC West win over a 10-win Ball State team. Lynch completed 81.3 percent of his passes with a career-high 26 completions. Most importantly, Lynch engineered two huge fourth-quarter touchdown drives to overcome a halftime deficit and get the win. The 26 completions tied for seventh-most all-time at NIU and the 345 yards are eighth.
MAN IN THE MIDDLE: Defensive tackle Ken Bishop ranks and impressive fourth on the Huskie team in tackles with 59 after making a career-high 11 stops at Toledo, and his 5.5 tackles for loss are tied for third on the team. At UMass, Bishop stepped in front of a screen pass for his first career INT and finished with nine tackles to earn his second MAC West Defensive Player of the Week Award. Bishop was also honored versus Idaho. Akron Head Coach Terry Bowden came away impressed with the NIU senior, "I don't think there's a better defensive player in the league than No. 93 (Bishop). He's got incredible strength and explosion. Whether it's against Iowa or us, he has the ability to stick a hand in somebody's chest and just drive them back. Then he separates with great quickness."
B1G BUSTER: After defeating both Iowa (30-27) and Purdue (55-24) during the non-conference schedule, NIU is 4-4 in its last eight games versus Big Ten Conference opponents and became the first Mid-American Conference team to defeat two Big Ten opponents in a regular season. The Huskies' 55 points at Purdue were the most ever scored by a MAC team versus the Big Ten and its 31-point victory margin tied for the largest in league history. NIU has more Big Ten wins this season than any team in the state.