Top 5 stories | No. 1: NIU football conquers the MAC — again

By Frank Gogola

Football has cemented itself as a dynasty in the MAC as it won its third MAC Championship in the past four seasons.

The Huskies won those three MAC Championships under three starting quarterbacks: Chandler Harnish (2011), Jordan Lynch (2012) and Drew Hare (2014). Additionally, they’ve won five-straight MAC West titles under three head coaches: Jerry Kill (2010), Dave Doeren (2011 and 2012) and Rod Carey (2013 and 2014).

The Huskies got their revenge on the Bowling Green Falcons in the 2014 Marathon MAC Championship game with a 51-17 rout. They had lost to the Falcons, 47-27, in the 2013 Marathon MAC Championship game — a loss that cost the Huskies a second-straight BCS bowl game appearance.

“All of the credit goes to [the players] on this,” said head coach Rod Carey, according to a Dec. 8 Northern Star article. “They said what they wanted; they said it back in January [2014], and they just got it [Dec. 5]. It’s because of all the hard work that they did, and I know that’s a cliché. But, you know what? You don’t get here without hard work, and that’s how they did it, and they bought into that.”

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Drew Hare threw for 218 yards and two touchdowns in the 51-17 win. Redshirt senior tailback Cameron Stingily led all players with 116 rushing yards and two touchdowns while Hare added 60 rushing yards and one touchdown.

NIU’s 51 points scored and 34-point margin of victory are the largest in MAC Championship game history. The defense held Bowling Green to 287 total yards, picked off three passes and forced a trio of turnovers on downs.

“That’s a doggone good football team,” said Dino Babers, Bowling Green head coach, according to the Northern Star. “And you got to take your hats off because they did it in every way you could do it: on the ground, in the air and played outstanding defense and kicking game as well. … They left no doubt in everyone’s mind of who the best football team in the conference is this year.”

Making it to the MAC Championship game was a minor miracle in itself as the Huskies had to win their final six regular season games after losing to the Central Michigan Chippewas at Homecoming and dropping to 1-1 in conference play.