Northern Illinois, the defending Mid-American Conference champions with the longest win streak in the nation, is ranked second in the MAC's West Division behind Toledo in the 2012 MAC Preseason Poll released Tuesday by the league office.
Members of the media representing league markets vote in the annual poll.
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In the West Division, Toledo garnered seven first-place votes from the 17 poll voters to outdistance Northern Illinois by four points, 87-83. The Huskies, who earned five first-place votes, were followed closely by Western Michigan, who collected 79 points and four first-place votes. Ball State (42 points), Eastern Michigan (34) and Central Michigan (32) rounded out the West voting.
Ohio, which dropped a 23-20 decision to the Huskies in the MAC Championship game a year ago, was picked to win the overall title in 2012, and the Bobcats earned all 17 first-place votes in the East Division. OU was followed by Bowling Green (91 points), Miami (84) and Kent State (76).
Five voters picked Ohio to win the MAC Championship game while Toledo was picked by three voters and NIU, WMU and Central Michigan each earned one vote.
After winning its final nine games of the season, including the Mid-American Conference Championship and GoDaddy.com Bowl, NIU takes the nation's longest FBS winning streak into the 2012 season-opener when the Huskies play host to Iowa at Soldier Field on Sept. 1. Tickets to Soldier Field Showdown III are now on sale through Ticketmaster by calling 1-800-745-3000, or online at www.Ticketmaster.com.
Linebacker Devon Butler has been granted his release from Northern Illinois and will no longer be a member of the Huskie football team, head coach Dave Doeren announced Wednesday.
Doeren said Butler's departure is based on many factors and is not the result of any single action or incident. Butler was entering his redshirt junior season for the Huskies in 2012. He played in 24 games for NIU at middle linebacker in 2009-10.