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2013 MAC Championship Preview: Northern Illinois vs Bowling Green

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The 12-0 Northern Illinois Huskies take on the 9-3 Bowling Green Falcons at 7 PM at Ford Field in Detroit on ESPN2.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

A long hard fought season in the Mid-American Conference will result in one champion after tonight.

NIU is the big favorite to win this one, even though the vegas odds list them as only as 4-point favorites. The Huskies opened as -3 point favorites to open. That tells you something about how this one isn't going to be so easy.

Awards are nice, as is looking towards the possibility of a BCS bid in the near future. But will that happen? Is it time to start comparing NIU's streak to what Marshall did a while back?

One Bowling Green beat writer believes it "Would Be No Surprise" if BG beat the Huskies on Friday. The knock on the Huskies as usual is the schedule, but the only way to solve that problem is just keep winning games.

Series History

NIU is actually 7-10 against Bowling Green all time. We had a hell of a rivalry in the early part of last decade with us beating an Urban Meyer-led squad in 2002 that was ranked #20 and then having the Falcons extract some revenge the next year in 2003 beating us when we were ranked #12 in the BCS. It was starting to become a hell of a rivalry until BGSU jumped to the other side of the MAC divisions.

MACC History

Detroit will always give NIU fans near-heart attacks. Just see 2011 & 2012 (good heart attacks) and 2010 and 2005 (bad heart attacks).


WR TommyLee Lewis will be back, as well as CB Jhony Faustin, DT Ken Bishop and LB Jamaal Payton

BG Offense

Bowling Green is very astute on this side of the ball, ranking 27th nationally in offense with 464 ypg. The rushing offense ranks 24th and the passing offense ranks 40th.

QB Matt Johnson has been very effective on the year throwing for 234 ypg with 18 TDs and 7 INTs. He ranks second in the MAC in passing efficiency. WR Shaun Joplin has been his biggest target so far this season with 47 catches for 807 yds (67.3 ypg).

RB Travis Greene is a beast in the backfield rushing for 1,422 yds (119 ypg) on the ground and 10 TDs on the season.

BG Defense

This side of the ball is scary-good and could be the determining factor in this one. On paper they rank as the 7th best defense in the country and the biggest thing is experience.

From Rod Carey the other day:

On defense, we played them two years ago. Out of that two-deep, they have 14 players still on the two-deep today from two years ago. On offense, they have seven coming back from that two-deep. So they are an experienced team, a proud team, and really play the game the right way and are explosive in all three phases of the game.

"Well they attack the line of scrimmage with their front four, and then on third down, they're not afraid to get after you with the blitz, and play in man-to-man coverage. That group has played together for three years, so if you put those three things together, everyone likes to talk about the Big Ten with Michigan State's defense, I've seen some of their film through crossover games, very similar attitude. They attack. That gives you a point of reference. I think that's what makes them tough."

And Bob Cole:

"Their defensive line is right up there with Iowa's defensive line, same thing with their linebackers. That's the best front seven we've seen all year up until this point in time, and they're as good as them, maybe not better. I think the thing they've got going for them now is they've been together, I think they have seven or eight kids that have played together for three years on the defensive side of the ball. They're extremely sound, they're well coached, and they fit in their gaps. You're rarely going to find them out of position, and they're aggressive. Then they have good enough defensive backs where they can sit there and play man to man on you, so they can do a lot of things up front with their front seven, so it's gonna be a good challenge for us. They're a good football team."

NIU Strategy

This game is going to be a tough go especially early on. Both teams might have trouble moving the ball in such a big type of game. Defenses have been able to shut down Jordan Lynch at times during the season, but this is probably his biggest test. The weather won't be a factor but will he have time to throw this week? Tommylee Lewis is back, so that should help out the offense a bit. The key here will be not to make the big mistake, the turnover to give BGSU the victory.

What's going to happen Huskie fans??

Other previews to check out: Hustle Belt Game Preview and Odds Preview. Northern Star's Breakdown, Huskie Wire's Storylines.