MACtion Tonight on National Television:
No. 16 Northern Illinois at Toledo, 8 pm ET (ESPN2)
Northern Illinois Game Notes:
• The undefeated Northern Illinois University Huskies are ranked No.16 in the Nov. 17 Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Rankings heading into this MAC West showdown at Toledo.
• NIU has 44 wins since 2010, putting the Huskies in elite company behind only Oregon and Alabama for wins in the last four years.
• NIU is coming off last Wednesday’s 48-27 home victory over Ball State, which entered the game 9-1. The Huskies broke a 27-27 tie on a 36-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Lynch to Da’Ron Brown with 5:49 to play and added two scores in the final two minutes to claim the win before a national television audience on ESPN2.
• For the second straight week, NIU is ranked No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, 20th in the Associated Press rankings and 18th in the Harris poll.
• With a 10-0 record, the 2013 Huskies have matched the 1963 NCAA College Division Championship squad which finished the year undefeated at 10-0. NIU’s current record is the school’s best since entering the “Major College” ranks in 1969.
• NIU has won MORE ROAD GAMES than any other FBS team this season with six; the Huskies’ 14-game road winning streak also leads the country.
• The Huskies have won 23 consecutive games versus Mid-American Conference opponents dating back to Oct. 1, 2011 and own the longest conference winning streak in the country.
• NIU’s 2013 senior class has won 44 games in the last four seasons to unseat its 2012 predecessors as the winningest senior class in school history.
• NIU leads the nation with 25 consecutive victories in its home stadium since 2009. The 2013 seniors have never lost a home game.
BACK TO THE ROAD
For the second straight Wednesday, NIU faces a MAC West rival as the Huskies travel to Toledo to face the Rockets on ESPN2. The Huskies are looking to extend their FBS-leading 23- game conference and 14-game road winning streaks.
NIU is 10-0 for the first time as an FBS program and just the second time in 108 years of football. The last Huskie team to go 10-0 was the 1963 NIU team that won the College Division National Championship behind College Football Hall of Famer George Bork.
The Huskies are one of just six undefeated teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision and were the first team in the nation to reach the 10-win mark. The undefeated list includes Florida State (ACC), Alabama (SEC), Baylor (Big XII), Ohio State (Big Ten), Fresno State (Mountain West) and NIU. All of the teams except Baylor (9-0) are 10-0 on the year.
HUSKIES AND THE RANKINGS
Despite recording one of its biggest wins of the season last week, NIU fell one spot to No. 16 in this week’s Bowl Championship Series Rankings with an average of .3729, and rank four-tenths of a point behind No. 15 Fresno State (.4134), the team the Huskies are chasing for a potential spot in a BCS bowl game. NIU’s average ranking by the computers used to determine the BCS numbers is 12. The Huskies lost points in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll (418), and were up 39 points in the Harris Poll (864) and 30 points in the AP rankings. NIU remained ranked 21st, 18th and 20th, respectively in those rankings.
Toledo Game Notes:
ROCKETS QUICK NOTES
• This will be the 41st meeting between Toledo and Northern Illinois, with the Rockets holding a 29-11 edge. NIU has won three straight, including a 31-24 decision in DeKalb last season.
• Toledo has won five straight games, averaging 45.2 points per game in that span.
• The Rockets are 25-5 in MAC play over the past four years. Three of those losses are to NIU; the other two are to Ball State.
• Senior running back David Fluellen, who is second in the MAC with 133.4 rushing yards per game, has not played in the last two games due to a lower leg injury. Fluellen hurt his leg in the first quarter of the BGSU game on Oct. 26. His status for the NIU game is uncertain.
• Fluellen’s replacement, freshman Kareem Hunt has rushed for 100 or more yards in four consecutive games. He is averaging nearly 149 yards per game over that span and more than 6.8 yards per carry.
• Toledo ranks second in the MAC in rushing behind the Huskies, and third in total offense, trailing NIU and Ball State.
• Toledo is 7-3, 5-1 MAC after last Tuesday’s 51-41 victory over Buffalo. The Rockets have won five straight games, their longest streak since they won eight consecutive games last season.
• UT is averaging 45.2 ppg during its unbeaten stretch, outscoring the opposition by 16.0 ppg (45.2-29.2).
• With seven wins, the Rockets are bowl eligible for the fourth consecutive season. UT went bowling in each of the past three seasons: Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (2010), Military Bowl (2011) and Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (2012).
• Toledo is in third place in the MAC West Division, behind Northern Illinois (6-0) and Ball State (6-1).
• The Rockets can make it to their first MAC Championship Game since 2004 by defeating Northern Illinois and Akron (Nov. 29). Under that scenario, a tie with Northern Illinois would send the Rockets to the title game due to a head-to-head victory (assuming Ball State lost its final game of the season).
• A three-way tie between Toledo, NIU and Ball State would also send UT to Detroit. Toledo’s wins over East Division leaders Bowling Green (5-1) and Buffalo (5-1) would break the tie.
• Toledo jumped out to a 38-0 lead then staved off a late Bulls run in a 51-41 victory over Buffalo on Nov. 12.
• Buffalo outgained the Rockets in total yards for the game, 601-552, but Toledo held a substantial edge in the first half, 350-131. The Rocket offense moved almost at will in the first half, scoring on four of its first five possessions, while the UT defense stopped Buffalo on all eight of its first-half possessions.
• Senior Bernard Reedy caught just three passes, but gained 149 yards on
FRESHMAN KAREEM HUNT HAS BEEN STELLAR AT RUNNING BACK
With senior David Fluellen sidelined with a leg injury, true freshman Kareem Hunt has stepped up in a big way. Hunt, from Willoughby, OH, has rushed for 127, 114, 168 and 186 yards in each of the last four games, an average of nearly 149 yards per game. For the season he has 672 yards and is averaging 6.8 yards per carry, better than any running back in the Mid-American Conference with over 500 yards rushing except for Fluellen (7.0 yards per carry). Redshirt freshman Damion Jones-Moore has rushed for 253 yards on just 34 carries, an average of 7.4 yards per attempt.
OWENS THIRD ON UT CAREER PASSING YARDAGE LIST
Senior QB Terrance Owens threw for a season-high 228 yards vs. Eastern Michigan last Saturday, giving him 7,810 career passing yards. He ranks second place on UT’s career passing yardage list behind Bruce Gradkowski.