No. 24 Northern Illinois aiming for school record
YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP)
Northern Illinois' ticket to the Mid-American Conference title game already has already been punched.
The 24th-ranked Huskies still aren't planning to take Friday's regular-season finale easy.
Northern Illinois (10-1, 7-0 MAC) can set a new school record with its 11th straight win and tie the program's single-season victory total by beating Eastern Michigan (2-9, 1-6) on the road.
Coach Dave Doeren, who's taken the Huskies to the MAC championship game in each of his two seasons, said his team has even greater goals.
''I heard only two programs have won 10-plus games the last three seasons: us and Oregon,'' he said. ''If we can continue, obviously getting to 11, 12 and the magic number 13, it would be a magical season for us.''
Junior quarterback Jordan Lynch has rushed for at least 100 yards in nine straight starts and became the first QB in Football Bowl Subdivision history to pass for 400 yards and rush for 100 in last week's 31-24 win over Toledo that clinched the division title.
Lynch has thrown for 2,582 yards and 22 touchdowns and has amassed 1,504 and 16 with his feet. His coach didn't seem to mind the athletic department's efforts to get him national attention.
''There's been a lot of great quarterbacks that have played since the invention of the spread and I think he's shown he's more than just a runner,'' Doeren said.
But chances are Lynch will get plenty of chances to run Friday. Eastern Michigan has struggled against the run this season and allows almost 270 yards per game.
Last year, the visiting Eagles gave Northern Illinois a fight before falling 18-12.
Eastern Michigan coach Ron English, though, said the experience won't help much.
''We have a completely different team,'' he said. ''We found ourselves young again in a lot of areas. We have to play our very best game to have a chance to be competitive with those guys.''
Graduation losses hurt the defense, but Eastern Michigan has shown some explosiveness on the other side of the ball, especially at home. The Eagles have scored at least 31 points in each of their last three games in Ypsilanti, including a 48-38 win over Army on Oct. 20.
English can send passer Tyler Benz or dual-threat Alex Gillett under center, but either quarterback will have his hands full against a stingy Huskies defense that has allowed less than four yards per carry while picking off a dozen passes.
This will be the first time a ranked opponent has played at Rynearson Stadium. The Eagles, who won their first conference game of the year last week at Western Michigan, are 0-7 all-time against Top 25 teams, including a loss earlier this season at then-No. 20 Michigan State.