Northern Illinois and Ball State square off in what should be the premier matchup of the MAC season. The undefeated Huskies host an excellent Cardinals team in DeKalb, Ill., with the winner almost guaranteed a division title.
The Huskies haven't lost a step since head coach Dave Doeren left for North Carolina State, as Rod Carey has stepped in to win nine in a row to start this year. Those nine wins include two road victories against Big Ten opponents -- Iowa and Purdue -- but they have yet to face a conference opponent with a winning record.
Ball State has gotten less hype, meanwhile, because they have a loss, albeit a tight one on the road against a very good North Texas team. The Cardinals blew out Virginia in non-conference play, and have played a single MAC team with a winning record, beating Toledo by a touchdown.
Rankings and records: Northern Illinois is ranked No. 15 in the BCS. The Huskies are 9-0 with a 5-0 conference record, while the Cardinals are 9-1 with a 6-0 record in MAC play. Ball State holds a 20-18-2 lead in the all-time series, but Northern Illinois has won the last four games between the two schools.
Vegas: Northern Illinois is a 7.5-point favorite. The over/under is 72.5 points. Odds Shark has more.
Weather: A high in the mid-30s and clear.
Three names to know
Jordan Lynch. The senior quarterback has 32 total touchdowns, ranking him among the nation's leaders.
Jimmie Ward. Northern Illinois's safety has a team-high five interceptions, and will look to slow down the prolific Ball State offense.
Keith Wenning. Lynch isn't the only senior quarterback here. Wenning has 31 total touchdowns, including 27 through the air.
Two things at stake
For Northern Illinois, a loss eliminates any shot at a BCS bowl berth.
Ball State has already lost a game, so they're out of the BCS running, but a win would basically guarantee the MAC West title.
How to witness
TV: 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
Radio: For Ball State, WLBC 104.1 FM. For Northern Illinois, WLBK AM 1360 and 98.9 FM.
Online streaming: WatchESPN.