Massachusetts - TeamReport
NCAAF Team Report - Massachusetts - INSIDE SLANT
Northern Illinois awaited Sunday's BCS rankings with high expectations after moving up two spots the previous week. The Huskies got some good news with Fresno State losing last week and some other possible teams in their way suffering losses.
Bowling Green in the MAC Championship game at Ford Field in Detroit on Friday. It will be a battle between the best offense in the conference and the best defense. The Falcons have to contain Jordan Lynch to have any shot at knocking off the Huskies.
Lynch, a senior, capped off a stellar regular season by breaking his own FBS record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a game, running for a career-high 321 yards and three touchdowns in Northern Illinois' win over Western Michigan. Lynch moved his name closer to a possible invite to the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York with his play late in the regular season.
"I really don't care what they say," Lynch said of his critics. "It's all about this team. It's all about this family."
Lynch helped the No. 14 Huskies cap off their best season in school history with the school's first-ever 12-0 mark. The Huskies finished undefeated in conference play for the second straight year. Lynch, who has yet to lose a game as a starter to a conference team, became the fifth quarterback in FBS history with 20 passing touchdowns and 20 rushing touchdowns in the same season. Three of the four on that list won the Heisman Trophy.
The Falcons knocked off Buffalo to win the MAC East Division. Bowling Green beat a hot Buffalo team to get a chance to play Northern Illinois. BGSU quarterback Matt Johnson torched a quality Buffalo defense and wide receiver Shaun Joplin caught five second-half passes for 139 yards and a touchdown.
"It has been a long road to get to this point," said BGSU senior defensive tackle Ted Ouellet to the Toledo Blade. "Last year we lost to Kent State, and we lost a shot at [the MAC championship]. This year we knew we needed to capitalize on it -- and not be afraid to make plays."
Besides Northern Illinois' run to a possible second straight BCS bid and third consecutive conference championship, the 2013 Mid-American Conference season can't end soon enough. The conference had two 10-win teams in Northern Illinois and Ball State. The Huskies finished 12-0 and the Cardinals recorded a 10-2 record. Bowling Green is 9-3 and Buffalo topped out at 8-4.
But two teams ended with 1-11 records in Western Michigan and UMass. Both teams won their lone game in conference play. Miami failed to win a game. Eastern Michigan won two games. Two coaches were fired in the middle of the season. Ohio limped to the finish line, as did Toledo.
Central Michigan gave the conference some hope by winning its sixth game of the season in the final regular season contest. Seven teams are bowl-eligible with at least six wins. In addition, Akron won its third game in a row to build some momentum for the 2014 season. Under second-year coach Terry Bowden, the Zips won five games after notching just one win in each of the last three seasons. Bowden received a two-year contract extension earlier in November.
NCAAF Team Report - Massachusetts - NOTES, QUOTES
--Northern Illinois finished 12-0 in the regular season for the first time in school history and completed the first perfect regular season record as an FBS team. The Huskies won their 26th game in a row at Huskie Stadium and 12th overall win in a row. The Huskies have won 24 of their last 25 games and extended their nation's best streak to 25 straight conference wins in a row.
--NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch improved his starting record to 24-2. Lynch rushed for 300-plus yards in a game twice this season after torching Western Michigan for an FBS single-game rushing record for a quarterback of 321 yards. He became the fifth play in FBS history with at least 4,000 yards rushing and 5,000 yards passing in a career. Lynch, who has 4,178 career rushing yards and 5,774 career passing yards, has rushed for 1,755 yards this season and averaging 146.3 yards per game in 2013.
--Bowling Green's Travis Greene carried the ball 30 times for 129 yards to lead the Falcons to a victory over Buffalo. Greene has rushed for 1,422 yards on 236 attempts this season. He needs 23 yards to break the school's all-time single-season rushing record of 1,444 yards, set by Fred Durig in 1951.
--Buffalo finished the regular season with an 8-4 record. The Bulls have played in just one bowl game in the school's history, in 2009.
--Central Michigan running back Zurlon Tipton's return to the field after suffering a major injury in the regular season opener at Michigan sparked the Chippewas late in the season. Tipton scorched Eastern Michigan for 216 yards rushing on 20 carries and scored four touchdowns, including an 86-yarder to make his team bowl-eligible for the second year in arrow.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Jordan Lynch is the best player in college football and that's no disrespect to anyone else. The reason is he makes every single guy around him better. He is what Northern Illinois is about. ... And with all the pressure, he continues to perform." -- WMU first-year coach and former NIU star receiver P.J. Fleck on Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, whom he helped recruit to NIU.