2013 Marathon MAC Football Championship Game
No. 14 Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Bowling Green Falcons
8:00 pm ET (ESPN2) from Ford Field in Detroit
Northern Illinois Game Notes:
• NIU remained at No. 14 in the latest BCS standings this week but gained ground in the polls and is ranked 15th (Harris), 16th (Associated Press) and 18th (USA Today Coaches) as the Huskies rose two spots in each poll.
• NIU is the only team in the Football Bowl Subdivision with seven road wins and is one of just three undefeated teams remaining in the FBS.
• The 2013 Huskies have posted the school’s first undefeated regular season as a major college program.
• With its 12th consecutive win, Northern Illinois has tied last year’s team for the longest winning streak in school history.
• NIU is playing in its fourth-straight MAC game and making its fifth championship game appearance overall.
• NIU is the first MAC team ever to defeat two Big Ten teams in the same regular season.
• Heisman Trophy candidate Jordan Lynch leads a Huskie offense that is averaging a school-record 42.8 points per game.
• The Huskies have won 24 of their last 25 games.
• NIU has won 25 straight conference games, the longest streak in the country.
• The Huskies have won 26 straight games at their home stadium, the longest such winning streak in the nation.
• The Huskies’ 15-game road winning streak is the longest in the FBS.
• NIU first-year head coach Rod Carey is 12-1 since taking over prior to the Orange Bowl a year ago.
Down To Three: NIU is one of only three undefeated teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision following losses by Fresno State and Alabama on the road last week. The undefeated list now includes only Florida State (ACC), Ohio State (Big Ten) and NIU.
Unblemished: NIU’s 12-0 record is the best in school history, surpassing the 1963 NIU College Division National Championship team that went 10-0 behind College Football Hall of Famer George Bork. The 1951 (9-0) and 1944 (7-0) Northern Illinois teams also were undefeated. With the Huskies’ win over Western Michigan, the 2013 team matched tied the school record 12-game streak posted by last year’s team.
The Best: Since the start of the 2010 season, no FBS team has won more games than NIU. Northern Illinois has won 46 games (under three head coaches) over the past four seasons to rank tied with Alabama and Oregon for the most wins. NIU is 46-8, while the Crimson Tide and Ducks are 46-6.
Top Class: For the third consecutive season, NIU’s seniors are the winningest class in school history. With the Huskies’ win over Eastern Michigan on Oct. 26, the 2013 seniors unseated the 2012 group atop the wins list. The 2013 seniors have been on teams that won 11 games in both 2010 and 2011, and have matched their 12 victories of a year ago in 2013. The seniors own a winning percentage of .852 with an overall record of 46-8 and never lost a game at Huskie Stadium (22-0). The 2012 seniors were 41-13 (.759) between 2009-2012 and the 2011 class went 35-19 (.648). Both the 2011 and 2012 seniors’ final years included MAC Championships.
Familiar Place: Six players on the Huskie roster will be playing in their fourth MAC Championship game on Friday as QB Jordan Lynch, DE George Rainey, OG Jared Volk, S Jimmie Ward, S Dominique Ward and DE Joe Windsor will make their fourth trek to the Motor City with the Huskies. In all, 38 players on the 2013 have played in at least one previous MAC title game and 29 have seen action in two MAC games.
Bowling Green Game Notes:
• In finishing the regular season with a 9-3 record, Bowling Green improved over the previous season for the third consecutive year.
• The win at Buffalo marked the ninth regular season win for the Falcons, the first time the program has reached that mark since winning 10 games in 2003.
• Bowling Green has won nine games for the first time in a season since 2004, when the team finished the regular season at 8-3 before winning the GMAC Bowl.
• BGSU was crowned MAC East Champs with their win over Buffalo. It is the first outright division championship since 2003, when the Falcons won the MAC West Division.
• For the fifth consecutive year the Falcons will have all three coordinators returning. Warren Ruggiero, Mike Elko and Adam Scheier will coach offense, defense and special teams.
• BGSU is the only program in the MAC that can boast having the same head coach and coordinators for five years running.
• Bowling Green will meet Northern Illinois for the first time since 2011. NIU has won three straight contests in the series, dating back to 2003.
• Friday’s appearance in the MAC Championship game is just the program’s second all-time appearance in a MAC Championship game. The last appearance came in 2003, when the Falcons hosted Miami in the last non-neutral site championship game.
• Bowling Green has not defeated Northern Illinois since College Gameday visited campus on October 25, 2003. That matchup featured two ranked teams, with the Falcons defeating No. 12 NIU 34-18 that day.
Rebuild Is Complete: Following a trip to the Humanitarian Bowl in 2009, BGSU Head Coach Dave Clawson knew he had an arduous rebuilding job ahead of him. The Falcons slumped to 2-10 in 2010 but have rebounded by winning three more games than the previous season in each of the past two years. The Falcons are one of just four FBS teams to have made a three-win increase or better in each of the past two seasons and the only one of those teams that has improved again in 2013.
A Dominant Stretch: Bowling Green has been dominant over the past four games, allowing just one touchdown while outscoring the opposition 176-17. During the past 18 quarters of play, the Falcons have outscored opponents 194-24.
Team Defense Leads Way To MAC East Title: During the past two weeks, the defense has shined to lead the Falcons to a MAC East Division title. At EMU two weeks ago, the Falcons allowed just four passing yards. Then, at Buffalo, BGSU held the Bulls to a season-low 15 rushing yards and seven points.
Red Hot In The Red Zone: In its nine wins, Bowling Green has been 39-of-44 scoring on trips in the red zone. Defensively, Bowling Green ranks first in the country, allowing just 15 scores in 26 red zone trips. Of the 11 stops, four have come by virtue of missed field goals, three by recovered fumbles and four by fourth-down stops.
An Experienced Crew: At the beginning of the season, Bowling Green knew they had a veteran team. Returning nine starters on defense and eight more on offense, it was the second straight year the Falcons returned 17 starters. Twelve Falcons have started all 12 games this season, including the whole offensive line. Alex Bayer, Jacob Bennett, Logan Dietz, Dominic Flewellyn, Aaron Foster, BooBoo Gates, Alex Huettel, Shaun Joplin, Chief Kekuewa, Bryan Thomas, Cam Truss, and Ryland Ward have started all 12 contests to date. There are also 16 Falcons on the current roster who have started at least 20 games in their career.