Key matchups: NIU vs. Toledo

By Matt Hopkinson

Martel Moore vs. Jermaine Robinson: Just one yard shy of setting a career high in reception yards, senior Moore has been the No. 1 receiver for NIU this season. With close to 750 yards on the season and eight touchdown receptions, Moore will have to come up big in this game for NIU to earn a victory. On the other side of the field, the aforementioned Robinson will assuredly be pegged with the responsibility of covering Moore. Robinson has the size advantage and has shown the ability to intercept and deflect passes. The winner of this matchup will be a large factor in the game’s outcome.

Jordan Lynch vs. Dan Molls: While the defensive line is characteristically the first line of defense against the run, Lynch has shown no problem breaking through every single team’s line this season. The real issue for Lynch will be trying to escape the range of Molls from the linebacker position. Molls recorded 17 tackles in last season’s matchup between the two teams, while Lynch ran for three yards on two runs. Obviously, this is a new season and a much improved Lynch. If Molls is unable to corral the Huskies signal-caller when he calls his own number, Lynch may be adding fuel to his Heisman fire.

David Fluellen vs. Tyrone Clark: Clark has watched film of Fluellen but believes there is a more important aspect come game day. “I got a chance to see their game and watch film,” Clark said in a news conference. “He’s a good back. I give him credit for what he does, but as a defense, we focus on us. As long as we’re sound and we do what we need to do, we’ll be alright.”

Clark deflects high praise for his opponent, but he will be one of the main men tasked with bringing down the big tailback. With NIU having stronger performances from the outside linebacker position than the middle, Clark will have to be on his toes and at his best in order to help keep Fluellen in check. NIU has kept other strong tailbacks in check before and its ability to do so with Fluellen could decide the game.

Wild Card: Tommylee Lewis of NIU. A pretty easy pick given his performance on special teams in last season’s game with two kick-off returns for touchdowns. However, the key for Lewis will be his increased role in the offense. Lewis has turned into a legitimate threat in the receiving game. He is second on the team in receiving yards and touchdowns caught. Lewis could be the real tipping point. With his ability to return kicks, his new responsibility of returning punts, catching passes, and getting in on the running game with end-arounds and reverses, Lewis gives NIU an extra card up its sleeve.