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Northern Illinois Wins MAC Title, Hopes for BCS Berth

With both teams in this year’s MAC Championship game entering the contest with top 25 rankings, it was billed as a heavyweight bout that MAC fans would not want to miss and as both teams came out swinging, it didn’t disappoint. The Golden Flashes and Huskies traded blows for more than four quarters, as the game spilled into overtime, but in the end, Northern Illinois was left standing as MAC Champions and with the hope for more.

“I hope we get into a BCS game,” Northern Illinois quarterback and leader Jordan Lynch said via ESPN.com. “We showed the country what we can do tonight, and we play our best game every week.”

Is NIU this year's BCS buster?

The 44-37 OT victory over a 17th ranked opponent will certainly give the Huskies, which were ranked #21 coming in, a lift in the standings. Northern Illinois’s consistent play all season and 12-1 record will give the pollsters something to think about, as NIU hopes to crack the top 16, which would qualify it for a potential BCS bid.

“You look at the top 16 teams in the BCS, and you aren’t going to find a team that plays as consistently as we do, wins every game they are supposed to win, and plays as well as we do in every phase of the game,” NIU coach Dave Doeren said. “We got big plays on offense when we needed them tonight, we got big plays on defense, and our kicker made every kick we needed. I don’t know anyone else who brings all of that.”

The Huskies did dominate most phases of the game, as they outgained the Flashes 524-260 in total yards, but three turnovers and 62 penalty yards kept Kent State hanging around long enough to tie the game with around a minute to go in regulation.

Lynch single handedly lifted the Huskies to victory, punching in the winning TD from two yards out in OT. He accounted for four TDs on the night and nearly 400 total yards, 160 of which were on the ground on 36 carries.

“That was a great football game, but it is going to be hard for us to swallow for a few days,” Kent State coach Darrell Hazell said. “Lynch is just an extraordinary football player, and we had a lot of trouble tackling him. We’re not the first team he’s done that against.”

The Huskies dashed Kent State's hopes of its first BCS bowl appearance

NIU’s win should see them leap frog Kent State, UCLA, which lost to Stanford last night and most likely Michigan, which was idle this week. But it could come down to #18 Texas, which plays today against #6 Kansas State and #20 Boise State, which battles Nevada today as well. If those teams lose, then it looks like Northern Illinois could be BSC bowlin’.

Since Boise will probably win, NIU will most likely end up on the outside of the BCS picture and will be headed to the GoDaddy.com Bowl, the same bowl that it won last season, as it represented the MAC Conference against Arkansas State. If it does head to a BCS game, expect it to be a huge underdog. Otherwise look for the Huskies to repeat as GoDaddy champs.

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