A valiant effort by Ball State faltered late and No. 15 Northern Illinois kept its undefeated season alive on a cold night in Dekalb, winning 48-27 in a game that was much, much closer than the score indicated.
Ball State had the game tied at 27 all with under six minutes to play, but two Jordan Lynch touchdowns and a pick-six in the dying minutes pushed the game far out of reach for the Cardinals, who fall to 9-2 (6-1) on the year.
Even at 10-0 (6-0), though, NIU's not a lock for the MAC West, but it is one step closer to the conference championship -- and perhaps a date with the BCS for a second straight year. Not many teams in the entire FBS, regardless of conference, would be able to claim that.
Box Score Hero: This is going to shock you, but Jordan Lynch was scintillating for NIU. The Huskies' do-everything QB ran up 468 yards of total offense (345 passing, 123 rushing) and delivered the knockout blow, trucking a Ball State tackler at the goal line for his fourth touchdown of the night, pushing the lead to 14 points with just 1:26 left.
Rankings Ramifications: This game probably won't amaze pollsters — home wins against unranked foes rarely do — but perhaps it should, considering Ball State was 9-1 itself coming into the game and likely would have garnered significant attention from pollsters with a win. As it stands though, look for NIU to tread water and hope teams above it catch a loss; with no matchups between two teams ranked higher than 24th, that's no sure thing.
But Did They Cover? NIU was favored by 8.5 points. Lynch's last TD meant the Huskies covered, but if you bet on the game, you were already exquisitely aware of that.
Next Week's Schedule: Northern Illinois goes to Toledo next week for another big-time showdown, while Ball State is off before its season finale with Miami University on the 29th.
More from SB Nation college football:
• Watch Easy Call’s Week 11 picks and nuggets: