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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 27, 12:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Waldo Stadium (30,200) -- Kalamazoo, Michigan. Television: ESPN Plus, ESPN3. Home Record: NIU 4-0, WMU 3-1. Away Record: NIU 3-0, WMU 0-4. Neutral Record: NIU 0-1, WMU 0-0. Conference Record: NIU 4-0, WMU 1-3. Series Record: Western Michigan leads, 23-14.
GAME NOTES: The Northern Illinois Huskies look to continue their dominance of the Mid-American Conference when they invade Waldo Stadium to take on the Western Michigan Broncos.
NIU is one of just three teams in the FBS, along with Oregon and Alabama, to have won 16 of its last 17 games. The Huskies handed Akron a 37-7 loss last week for their 12th straight win in league action. Coach Dave Doeren has been sensational since taking over the helm of the program last season as he enters this game with a stellar 18-4 record.
The Broncos were unable to overcome their six turnovers against Kent State last week and lost, 41-24. It was the second setback in a row for WMU, which is just 1-3 in MAC play. The Broncos have been a much tougher team at home than on the road this season. They are 3-1 at Waldo Stadium this season as Toledo has been the only triumphant visitor.
Although NIU has won three straight in the series, the Broncos hold a 23-14 edge in the rivalry's history. The Huskies ran past WMU for a 51-22 victory in DeKalb last season.
The Huskies are excelling this season due to an unstoppable offense which carries averages of 464.6 yards and 36.8 points per game. NIU leads the MAC in rushing yards and points scored.
Jordan Lynch is at the center of NIU's attack and may be the most explosive quarterback in the nation. He is the leader of all FBS quarterbacks with 131.1 rushing yards per game. Lynch is producing 344.9 total yards per game, which is the sixth best average in the FBS. Due to his size, he has been described as a linebacker playing quarterback by his head coach.
Although Lynch is leading the team in rushing yards with 918 on 129 carries, Leighton Settle is a capable back with 453 yards and 5 TDs on 101 touches.
Martel Moore is Lynch's primary target in the passing game. Moore has caught 41 passes for 597 yards and seven of the team's 13 touchdown receptions. Tommylee Lewis and Ashford Perez have both managed to tally over 200 receiving yards as well.
Defensively, NIU allows opponents to pick up decent yardage but still manages to keep they from lighting up the scoreboard. Due to their bend but not break mentality, the Huskies have the second best scoring defense (18.3) in the MAC.
Joe Windsor and Alan Baxter have both shown great pass rushing ability this season. Windsor has recorded 6.5 sacks and 10 total tackles for loss while Baxter has produced 6.0 sacks and eight tackles for loss. Jimmie Ward is a key component of the defense with a team-high of 67 tackles and two interceptions.
Although it has been sporadic, the WMU offense has been effective overall this season, scoring 28.6 ppg on 431.3 ypg.
Tyler Van Tubbergen has been streaky as the team's quarterback since taking over the job for the injured Alex Carder earlier in the season. Van Tubbergen passed for a career-high 333 yards and a touchdown against Kent State his last time out, but he was also intercepted three times in the loss. He has eight touchdowns to nine interceptions on the season.
Jaime Wilson has been one of the MAC's busiest receiver this season with 59 catches. He is also among the conference leaders in yards (706) and touchdowns (six). Opposite Wilson is Josh Schaffer, who has caught 38 balls for 517 yards and three scores. Wilson set new career-highs last week with 151 yards and nine catches against Kent State.
Dareyon Chance (111 carries, 628 yards, two TDs) has provided a 100-yard rushing performance in three different games this season. Brian Fields offers a change of pace in the backfield, picking up 339 rushing yards and two scores on 62 carries.
The WMU defense held Kent State to 384 yards of total offense its last time out. Although the Broncos' scoring defense (27.4 ppg) is ranked fifth in the conference, its total defense (371.3 ypg) trails only Bowling Green.
Johnnie Simon is the heart and soul of the defense with a team-high 75 tackles and one interception. Justin Currie, Terry Easmon, and Desmond Bozeman are all vital role players and each have 50 tackles or more. The unit can create plenty of pressure on the quarterback, with Bozeman (four sacks), Deauntay Legrier (3.5 sacks) and Paul Hazel (four sacks) all charging off the line. Lewis Toler is a playmaker in the secondary with three interceptions and a pair of pass breakups.
The Huskies have been destroying the opposition as of late and have been nearly invincible in MAC competition. The Broncos need to hang on to the ball better in this one or they will quickly become NIU's next victim.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Illinois 31, Western Michigan 14
10/24 10:31:56 ET
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