After becoming the first Mid-American Conference team to qualify for the BCS last season, No. 18 Northern Illinois is poised to do it again if it can claim its third straight conference title game Friday against Bowling Green at Ford Field in Detroit. The Huskies tied a school record with their 12th straight win last Tuesday and have won 24 of their last 25 overall. Another victory would allow Northern Illinois to become the first school since Marshall to win three straight MAC championships.
While the Huskies possess a darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate in Jordan Lynch and have 25 straight victories over MAC opponents, the Falcons can take solace in the fact Northern Illinois has won the last two title games by a combined 10 points. Bowling Green, which reached the nine-win mark for the first time since 2004 with Friday’s victory over Buffalo, has outscored its opponents 176-17 during its four-game winning streak. The Falcons are seeking their 11th MAC title and first since 1992.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: Northern Illinois -3
ABOUT BOWLING GREEN (9-3, 7-1 MAC): Running back Travis Greene, a converted receiver, ranks second in the conference in rushing behind Lynch with 1,422 yards – 23 yards shy of breaking the school record set by Fred Durig in 1951. The Eagles complement the league’s third-best rushing offense with a defense that ranks fifth in the country in scoring defense (13.8 points) and seventh in total defense (296.6 yards). Perhaps even more impressively, Bowling Green has not allowed a second-half point during the last four games.
ABOUT NORTHERN ILLINOIS (12-0, 8-0): Lynch broke his own NCAA record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 321 against Western Michigan and became only the second player in school history to rush for at least 300 yards twice in the same season (LeShon Johnson). "I think Jordan Lynch is the best college player in football. He is Northern Illinois and he's what Northern Illinois is about,” Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck said following his team’s loss to Northern Illinois. Lynch is the fifth player in FBS history with 4,000 rushing and 5,000 passing yards.
1. Lynch is 218 rushing yards shy of breaking the NCAA career mark for rushing yards by a quarterback, held by Denard Robinson (4,495).
2. Bowling Green held Buffalo to 15 yards rushing six days after limiting Eastern Michigan to four yards passing.
3. Lynch needs two more rushing touchdowns to tie Chad Spann (22) for the most single-season rushing touchdowns in school history.
PREDICTION: Northern Illinois 31, Bowling Green 24