Ball State Cardinals at Northern Illinois Huskies (-7, 72)
To this point, Jordan Lynch and No. 21 Northern Illinois have passed every test they’ve faced during the 2013 season. However, the Huskies will face a stern challenge – maybe their toughest of the year – against visiting Ball State on Wednesday night. Northern Illinois has defeated Iowa, Purdue and a 9-1 Eastern Illinois squad, but this matchup with the Cardinals is for first place in the Mid-American Conference’s West Division.
Ball State is 6-0 in the league following last week’s 20-point victory over Central Michigan, while Northern Illinois improved to 5-0 in MAC play with a 44-point rout of Massachusetts on Nov. 2. Since then, the Huskies have been preparing for this game, which will feature two quarterbacks with impressive stats but very different styles. “You have that 'dual-threat' label now and the 'pro-style' label,” Huskies coach Rod Carey of the contrast between Lynch and Ball State’s Keith Wenning, adding that "Wenning) is a good football player.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: Northern Illinois -6.5
ABOUT BALL STATE (9-1, 6-0 MAC): The Cardinals’ only loss this season came at North Texas on Sept. 14, when the Mean Green erased a 20-3 deficit to stun Ball State 34-27. Since that game, the Cardinals have won seven in a row, including five wins by at least 18 points. Wenning has 27 touchdowns against only five interceptions this season, and Ball State’s two-headed rushing attack of Jahwan Edwards and Horactio Banks has combined for 1,344 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground.
ABOUT NORTHERN ILLINOIS (9-0, 5-0): The Huskies, who rank in the top 10 nationally in rushing yards per game (fourth, 312.7) and points per game (eighth, 44.2), have the nation’s longest conference winning streak – 22 straight victories against MAC opponents. The fuel to their engine is Lynch, who finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy balloting a season ago and could place even higher this year, with 1,871 passing yards and 19 touchdowns to go along with 1,150 rushing yards and 12 scores on the ground. While Northern Illinois’ offense gets most of the attention, its defense has yielded 24 points or less in six straight games, led by ball-hawking safety Jimmie Ward and his team-high five interceptions.
* Road team is 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings.
* Cardinals are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 conference games.
* Huskies are 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall.
* Over is 10-4 in Huskies last 14 games in November.
1. Northern Illinois also has the nation’s longest home winning streak, having won 24 in a row at Huskie Stadium.
2. Cardinals WR Willie Snead owns the school record for receiving touchdowns in a season with 12 this year.
3. Lynch is one of nine players in FBS history to accumulate at least 3,000 rushing yards and 5,000 passing yards, a list that also includes San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who did it at Nevada from 2008-11.