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updated: 11/14/2012 8:10 AM

NIU facing another big test with Toledo

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  • Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch looks to a pass against Iowa at Soldier Field. Since rejoining the MAC in 1997 the Huskies have dropped 11 of 15 to Toledo, including eight straight from '97 to '04.

    Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch looks to a pass against Iowa at Soldier Field. Since rejoining the MAC in 1997 the Huskies have dropped 11 of 15 to Toledo, including eight straight from '97 to '04.
    associated press/Sept. 1, 2012


You can't blame Northern Illinois football fans for getting a little skittish every time they see Toledo on the schedule.

After all, since rejoining the MAC in 1997 the Huskies have dropped 11 of 15 to the Rockets, including eight straight from '97 to '04.

NIU has taken three of the last four with the most memorable being last season's insane 63-60 victory at Toledo, as the Huskies were on their way to an 11-3 record, a MAC championship and a victory over Arkansas State in the Bowl.

And two years ago the Huskies destroyed Toledo 65-30 when they also went 11-3 and picked up a bowl victory.

So there should be lots of confidence on the NIU sideline Wednesday night when the Huskies host Toledo (8-2) in DeKalb (8 p.m., ESPN2/WSCR 670-AM).

Northern (9-1) comes in ranked 27th in the AP Poll and 26th in the Coaches Poll, looking to clinch the MAC West and a spot in the conference title game for the third straight year, with Toledo coming off a defeat at home to Ball State last week as a 7-point favorite.

Still, there are the haunting memories of seasons ruined by the Rockets.

There was 2004, when the 7-2 Huskies lost to Toledo at home.

There was 2003, when the 9-1 Huskies had defeated No. 15 Maryland, Tennessee Tech, No. 21 Alabama and Iowa State in the first four games and made it into the top 10 of the BCS rankings, when Toledo, playing at home, pounded NIU 49-30.

And in 2002, the Huskies were 9-3 when the Rockets won a 33-30 heartbreaker in DeKalb.

This would seem to be a different era, and behind coach Dave Doeren and QB Jordan Lynch the Huskies should feel good, but they're listed as an 11-point favorite and that's a big number.

Lynch is third in the nation in total offense (3,517 yards) behind Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Baylor's Nick Florence, and sixth in rushing yards (1,342). But the Rockets feature running back David Fluellen, who is second in the country in rushing (1,381), and QB Terrance Owens, who is 34th in passing (2,412).

It's going to be another wild game and it's still Toledo, so there shouldn't be any overconfidence on the NIU campus.

Revenue sharing

According to the SportsBusiness Journal, 22 of 30 NBA teams will be profitable this season, up from 18 last year, which was the first under the new CBA with the installation of a new revenue-sharing system. Prior to the new plan, eight teams were profitable.

States the SBJ, "The revamped revenue-sharing system complements the larger, long-standing process in the NBA of teams sharing league-level revenue, including money from national television contracts, leaguewide sponsorships and international deals.

"The intent of the new system is to better aid the league's smaller-market clubs financially relative to its large-market teams, which can generate higher revenue from local TV and sponsorship deals."

Hello, Gary Bettman?

Sox rankings

Updated list of the White Sox' top 10 prospects via Baseball America: OF Courtney Hawkins, OF Trayce Thompson, middle infielder Carlos Sanchez, RHP Erik Johnson, OF Keenyn Walker, LHP Scott Snodgress, RHP Andre Rienzo, 1B Keon Barnum, OF Jared Mitchell and RHP Chris Beck.

The stat

SI's Peter King: "In his four years as starting quarterback for the Jets, Mark Sanchez has ranked 28th, 27th, 23rd, and, this year, 30th, in passer rating."

Pitching in

Congrats to righty Scott Baker, who signed a contract with the Cubs on Tuesday to pitch in Chicago -- until he's traded July 31.

The bright side

At least the Blackhawks don't have to take the circus trip this year.

Best memory

Roberto Luongo's tweet about the newest Hall of Famer: "Had the privilege (to) play with Pavel Bure. Typical night would consist of: 1 backcheck, 4 strides all game, 4 packs of gum, 2 to 3 goals."

Best tweet

From @TheFakeESPN: "Swiss cheese ashamed to be associated with Eagles offensive line."

Best headline "Lakers offer contracts to Gary Payton and Karl Malone in hopes of getting younger."

Best line

Miami Herald's Greg Cote: "Charles Barkley now says LeBron James could be better than Michael Jordan. The NBA has new rules against flopping, but I guess flip-flopping is still allowed."

And finally

Omaha World-Herald's Brad Dickson: "A USC student manager was fired for deflating footballs used in the first half of the game with Oregon. There is no place for that lack of ethics in a USC student manager. Instead, he was named recruiting coordinator."

•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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