On Friday NIU football will find itself in a situation that it knows all to well: playing the MAC Championship game at Ford Field.
The Huskies (11-1) will be making this trip for the third straight year. They lost their first appearance against Miami (Ohio) and won last season against Ohio.
This year’s contest will take place against Kent State. This alone shows the disparity in talent from year to year, making the Huskies’ presence the last three seasons all the more impressive.
The game will be a televised on ESPN2. This airing gives a conference on the rise the ability to showcase the two best teams in the league and possibly two of the hottest teams in the nation.
After all, the Huskies have won 11 games straight and Kent State has won 10 in a row. The Huskies will get another shot to continue their various streaks, and the more important chance to show what this team is about.
NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch is in high statistical regard in the nation, but his profile is still low. While an unlikely candidate to win the Heisman, he should be getting more consideration and notoriety than he has.
Lynch also has several big-time weapons at his disposal, especially through senior receiver Martel Moore, who already has double-digit touchdowns and more than 1,000 yards receiving.
The defense is one of the best in the league in stopping the run if you take away the Army game, and is still respectable in all categories.
The special teams play has the ever-present possibility of a big play from sophomore TommyLee Lewis.
The game has even bigger implications with a victory, as NIU is in the running for a BCS bowl game. While not a guarantee at all, many cards have fallen in its favor for that possibility to become a reality.
Perhaps the best-kept secret in the nation regarding college football, NIU has been the most winningest program in Illinois for quite some time, though if judging by the attendance the team would still seem to be unknown to those outside of DeKalb.
Ford Field may not sell out because the teams’ fans will be able able to sit on their couches at home in the warmth as opposed to cheering in the Detroit cold, but the game will be a statement-maker one way or the other.
The MAC as a whole has had one of its best seasons and no matter the outcome, this game will provide a national audience with the two powerhouses on each side to display the talent level that has been brewing in the Midwest.