It’s going to be a battle of two Top 20 teams Friday in Detroit when Northern Illinois takes on Kent State for the Mid-American Conference title.
The Huskies jumped up five spots to No. 19 in The Associated Press writers’ poll and are 18th in the USA Today coaches’ poll. It’s the highest NIU has been ranked since 2003.
Kent State is No. 17 in the BCS standings, 18th in the AP poll and 19th in the USA Today poll.
Also, in the latest BCS standings, NIU is 21st.
The Huskies will be shooting for their 12th straight victory. They cruised past Eastern Michigan 49-7 on Friday for their school-record 11th win in the regular season.
“It means a lot to be part of history,” NIU coach Dave Doeren told reporters after the game. “Anytime you do something that has never been done before, that’s pretty special.”
It’s going to be NIU’s third straight appearance in the MAC title game.
After that it’s an open question about where they wind up during the bowl season. The MAC has ties to the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala. (Jan. 6), the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl in Detroit (Dec. 26) and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho (Dec. 15).
Last year the Huskies beat Arkansas State 38-20 in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. The year before they beat Fresno State 40-17 in Boise.
“We’ll see where they put us,” Doeren said. “Maybe a few teams will lose and let us bump up into something big. We’ll see where it takes us. I think this team deserves it.
“I would love to be in the conversation about taking us to a higher-level bowl game. If we can win the next game and get to 12-1, maybe we’ll have some clout.”
Perhaps Jordan Lynch will help sell the Huskies. He is one of the most explosive dual-threat quarterbacks in the country with a combined 39 touchdowns (rushing and passing) and a string of 10 straight 100-yard rushing games, an NCAA record.
Lynch ran for 107 yards in Friday’s victory, while Akeem Daniels rushed for 112 yards on 12 carries.
The MAC has seven bowl eligible teams: NIU, Kent State, Toledo, Ohio, Bowling Green, Central Michigan and Ball State.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.