Breaking News Bar
updated: 11/29/2012 2:27 PM

NIU playing for much more than a MAC title

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch was named the 2012 Vernon Smith Leadership Award winner on Wednesday as the MAC's top performer, and the conference's top offensive player for the season. He'll lead the No. 22-ranked Huskies against No. 17 Kent State in the MAC Championship game Friday in Detroit.

      NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch was named the 2012 Vernon Smith Leadership Award winner on Wednesday as the MAC's top performer, and the conference's top offensive player for the season. He'll lead the No. 22-ranked Huskies against No. 17 Kent State in the MAC Championship game Friday in Detroit.
    Photo courtesy of NIU Athletics

  • Photo courtesy of NIU AthleticsNIU quarterback Jordan Lynch

      Photo courtesy of NIU AthleticsNIU quarterback Jordan Lynch

 
 

As if there wasn't enough at stake Friday night when Northern Illinois and Kent State meet for the Mid-American Conference title, now there could be a BCS Bowl invite as well for the winner.

What had to happen last weekend happened, and now the Huskies and Golden Flashes are poised to capitalize in their Detroit title test.

Kent State is 17th in the BCS standings and NIU 21st, which puts the Golden Flashes in a better spot to move into the top 16. The top 16 teams get lucrative BCS Bowl invites.

"The dominoes had to fall, and they did," said NIU coach Dave Doeren. "I think it was more of, 'Hey, wouldn't that be cool if this happened.' Now it's a real conversation because nine teams lost that were ranked higher than us and so that really opened up some doors.

"None of them are worth their salt if we lose this weekend, so we've got to win. We put ourselves into a position to make it a real argument and now we need to finish what we started here. It was wild. I didn't get to see much of it because we were game planning the whole day, but I recorded all the games. My son told me and he was calling me with updates. It was kind of fun. It was a crazy day in college football."

What helped the Huskies most was Rutgers and Louisville losing, which means no Big East school is in the top 25 in the BCS standings.

What has to happen this weekend is No. 16 UCLA must lose to No. 8 Stanford and No. 18 Texas has to fall to No. 6 Kansas State.

Both UCLA and Texas are underdogs.

"It's not a BCS talk if you lose," Doeren said. "It's pretty simple. You lose this game, you don't talk about it next week. It's real easy to lock them into winning this one.

"The challenge to me was the week before and the week before Toledo. Those were the games that scared me more than these kinds of games. When you are playing your rival for a chance to go to the championship, then you are playing the championship for the chance to maybe play in the BCS. There is not a lot you need to say. These guys are going to be ready."

The NIU players certainly understand what's at stake.

"I think it is one of the biggest games in MAC history for the MAC championship," said quarterback Jordan Lynch, who was named the 2012 MAC Vern Smith Leadership Award winner on Wednesday, an honor the coaches give to the league's top performer.

"All that BCS talk, that's great and everything. It would be great to send our seniors out with a BCS Bowl. But if we don't take care of this game, none of that is possible," said Lynch, who is one of 10 finalists for the Manning Award given to the nation's best quarterback and also was named MAC Offensive Player of the Year on Wednesday.

Added wide receiver Martel Moore: "It's a great thing for the program. It's very big for our class and for the whole team, but we still have to take care of business this week. If we don't take care of business, it means nothing for our future."

The Huskies have won 11 regular season games in a row for the first time in school history, making it one of the greatest football seasons ever in DeKalb -- one that could be remembered forever should they get to a BCS Bowl.

"You don't want to get your head wrapped around things like that," said linebacker Victor Jacques. "You want to stay focused on the prize. You want to go out there with the mentality that you have the right to be there. You don't want to be shocked the whole time you're there that, 'Oh my God, I'm here.' You just want to put that in the back of your head and go out there and play football."

Kent State coach Darrell Hazell refused to discuss the BCS possibilities.

"I won't talk about that at all," Hazell said. "I'll talk about Northern Illinois, that's the most important thing. If our guys don't focus on this game Friday, then we have no opportunity to play in some of those big games."

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here