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2013 Northern Illinois
Schedule and Odds
It's no surprise that Northern Illinois is once again the cream of the crop in the MAC this season. Even though they only return 11 total starters, the main one that matters is quarterback Jordan Lynch who runs an offense that scored 38.6 points per game last year. With a lot of players gone, it'll be unlikely they reach BCS level again, but winning the MAC for the third straight year is a good prediction. New head coach Rod Carey takes on the challenge of expectation, but at least he's already familiar with the team.
In case you don't know who Lynch is, he shattered plenty of record books in his first season as the Huskies starter. Through the air he managed 3,138 yards, 25 TDs and six INTs while adding 1,815 and 19 TDs on the ground. Against one of the best defenses in the country in the Orange Bowl he struggled, but that's usually what happens when you go from playing MAC defenses all season to a team like Florida State. The good news is that his entire offensive line returns with plenty of all-conference talent. It's a wonder if they can keep up the same levels even if defenses stack the box against them. RB Akeem Daniels should help out in the backfield as he had a couple 100-yard games late in the year. The question will be at wide receiver where leader Martel Moore is gone. Tommylee Lewis and Da'Ron Brown are expected to step up.
Defensively it's another story for the Huskies as only four starters are returning. The front seven took the majority of the hits and only has a couple players that have experience coming back. Tackle Ken Bishop and linebacker Jamaal Bass will have to step up. The secondary should be their strong suit with Jimmie Ward back who actually led the team in tackles in 2012.
2013 Northern Illinois Football Schedule
Aug. 31 at Iowa
Sept. 14 at Idaho
Sept. 21 vs. Eastern Illinois
Sept. 28 at Purdue
Oct. 5 at Kent State
Oct. 12 at Akron
Oct. 19 at Central Michigan
Oct. 26 vs. Eastern Michigan
Nov. 2 at Massachusetts
Nov. 13 vs. Ball State
Nov. 20 at Rutgers
Nov. 26 vs. Western Michigan
The Huskies were two points away from going undefeated last year and while the likelihood of that happening again is slim, the schedule may allow it. But first things first, NIU has to deal with road battles in four of their first five games with two of them being at Big Ten opponents. Granted, Iowa and Purdue aren't great, but they still are bigger schools.
Their opening MAC game comes at Kent State, a rematch of last year's conference championship game. However, the Golden Flashes aren't nearly the team they were a year ago and that should give Lynch and company the edge. From there, Northern Illinois should coast until they have back-to-back games against their only true competition in the West division in Ball State and Toledo. Ball State is at home which helps, but playing at Toledo will be tough.
The pieces are there for the Huskies, at least at quarterback, to win the conference. Jordan Lynch has to keep it going and may even have to improve with a defense that might not be as good. Double-digit wins should definitely be expected, though.
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