No. 23 N Illinois hosts Akron, eager to go 6-0
DEKALB, Ill. (AP)
After playing four its first five games on the road, the comforts of home may take some getting used to for No. 23 Northern Illinois.
The Huskies (5-0, 1-0 Mid-American West) hope to extend a 22-game home winning streak -- the nation's longest -- when they host Akron (1-5, 0-2 MAC East) on Saturday.
''We've been on the road so much that that's become our routine,'' said Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey. ''I know with the atmosphere we had in that first (home) game. ...Our players are excited because we have a home field advantage and we're going to need that.''
The Zips, meanwhile, have not won an away game in nearly five years, an 0-29 stretch.
The Huskies are off to a 5-0 start for the first time since 2003. The two-time defending MAC champs have beaten two Big Ten teams (Iowa and Purdue) and topped Kent State 38-24 in last Saturday's rematch of the 2012 MAC title game.
Northern Illinois piled up 698 yards of total offense in that game, third most in program history and eighth highest ever by any MAC team in a conference game.
Running back Cameron Stingily was named MAC West offensive player of the week after collecting 266 yards rushing and two touchdowns, the second highest in FBS this season. Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch was 21 of 35 for 244 yards and rushed for 94 yards on 14 carries.
Northern Illinois is 12th nationally in total offense, averaging 529.6 yards per game, while Lynch is 13th in total offense, averaging 329.2 yards per game.
''They clearly have one of the best statistical offenses in the conference and one of the top quarterbacks in the country, one of the top defenses from the standpoint of talent,'' Akron coach Terry Bowden said. ''They're the elite of our conference.''
Northern Illinois, which reached the Orange Bowl last season, is the fifth Akron opponent that appeared in a 2012 bowl game. By season's end the Zips will have played nine teams that played in bowls, including six MAC foes.
Akron gave Michigan fits and led twice in the second half before the Wolverines prevailed 28-24 on Sept. 14. The Michigan loss was the first in a four-game losing streak, including last Saturday's 43-3 MAC setback against Ohio.
But Northern Illinois' Carey said Akron's Ohio loss was an aberration.
''All you have to do is turn on that Michigan film and you can see that this is a much improved football team,'' Carey said. ''In my estimation, and this is my opinion, I think they lost the Michigan game. Michigan did not beat then. They pushed Michigan around all day.''
A near-sellout crowd of 24,000 is expected for Saturday's 107th homecoming and a limited number of season tickets remained at midweek.
''Having all the fans out there is great,'' defensive tackle Anthony Wells said. ''The more people the better, the louder it's going to be and make it harder on the away teams.''
Five things to watch Saturday:
ON THE MARK: Northern Illinois's Lynch needs 44 yards to become the ninth FBS player all-time with 3,000 yards rushing and 4,000 yards passing. His 16 career 100-yard rushing games lead all FBS players. With 3,138 passing and 1,815 yards in 2012 Lynch became the first player in FBS history to pass for more than 3,000 yards and run for more than 1,500 in a single season.
STINGILY LIKELY TO PLAY: Northern Illinois' Stingily will likely play Saturday after he posted bond on Sunday following issuance of a warrant for his arrest. Stingily failed to appear in court on charges of driving without a valid license. ''We went ahead and we took the corrective measures we had to take on Sunday to get that taken care of,'' Carey said. ''He has a new court date set. To me, it's a traffic violation.''
STILL SEEKING 100: Akron junior running back Jawon Chisholm is 10th in school history with 2,201 yards and his 10 career 100-yard games ties for ninth most nationally among active players. He hasn't had a 100-yard game yet this season but has a team-high 407 all-purpose yards.
DAY TO DAY: Northern Illinois tailback Keith Harris remains day to day after tweaking an ankle against Kent State last week. He had three receptions for 54 yards and rushed twice for 31 yards before the injury late in the first half.
HONORING NOVAK: Former head coach Joe Novak will be inducted into Northern Illinois' athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday. Novak (63-76) was 3-30 through his first three seasons, had winning records in seven of the next nine years and was credited with establishing the foundation for today's success. Novak's teams played in a MAC title game (2005) and a bowl game (2006) before his 2007 retirement.