Northern Illinois makes its claim for a BCS bowl game in MAC Championship win over Kent State. They're currently ranked No. 21, and will need lots of help to reach the critical No. 16 spot. Bowl projections here.
The Northern Illinois Huskies (12-1) needed double-overtime to do it, but beat the Kent State Golden Flashes (11-2) 44-37 Friday to clinch the MAC Championship and, more importantly, make a case that they belong in a BCS bowl game.
Northern Illinois trailed 10-0 early, but took a 17-10 halftime lead and led 27-20 with 4:53 remaining when quarterback Jordan Lynch fumbled and Kent State's Zack Hitchens recovered and returned the ball 22 yards for the tying touchdown.
On the next drive, Lynch connected with Akeem Daniels on a 43-yard pass that set up a 9-yard touchdown run by Lynch. Kent State tied with with less than 30 seconds remaining on a touchdown 19-yard pass from Spencer Keith to Tim Erjavec with less than a minute remaining.
The teams traded field goals in the first overtime, but a 2-yard touchdown by Lynch in the second overtime proved to be the game-winner. Kent State had a chance to tie, but stalled inside the Northern Illinois 10-yard line.
Daniels had 17 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 67 yards. Northern Illinois outgained Kent State 524-260 overall, but three turnovers helped keep Kent State in the game.
Box Score Hero: Lynch was 19-for-34 for 212 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for 160 yards and three touchdowns.
Rankings Ramifications: The win is likely to push Northern Illinois up in the rankings and potentially into a BCS bowl. Kent State had a great season, but MAC schools have little margin for error in the rankings, so this loss could possibly drop the Golden Flashes from the top 25.
But Did They Cover? Northern Illinois was favored by 6.5 points, so the Huskies covered.