Northern Illinois may have lost its head coach after last season, but it didn't lose standout quarterback Jordan Lynch, and as a result, the Huskies are still chewing up the Mid-American Conference. This week they travel to Massachusetts to face one of the weaker teams in the league, so it's a good bet that the Huskies will still be undefeated when all is said and done.
UMass only recently made the transition to the FBS level, and it's been rough going for the Minutemen, understandably. In particular, they're really struggling on the offensive side of the ball. After averaging 12.7 points per game last year, they're averaging just 10.6 points per game in 2013, and they've been held to single digits or shut out five times already.
Rankings and records: Northern Illinois comes into the game at 8-0 (4-0), ranked 20th in the Coaches' Poll and No. 21 in the AP Poll. The Huskies are also No. 17 in the BCS standings. Unranked UMass is 1-7 (1-3) on the year. NIU's 63-0 win over the Minutemen last season was the first meeting between these schools.
Vegas: NIU opened as a 23-point favorite. The line has since moved to 24.5, and the over/under is at 58.5
Weather: Mostly sunny skies and a high of 62 are expected. There is a slight chance of rain.
Three names to know
Jordan Lynch -- Lynch has thrown for 1,711 yards this season and run for 1,031 more, leading the team in both categories. He averages nearly 31 pass attempts and 20 carries per game, making him a massive part of the team's offense. And that's nothing new -- he threw for over 3,000 yards and ran for more than 1,800 last season.
A.J. Doyle -- If UMass is to entertain any upset hopes, Doyle is going to have to be tremendous. He's averaging just 5.6 yards per pass attempt this season, but he is coming off one of his better efforts, and the offense showed more life as a result.
Cameron Stingily -- When Lynch isn't carrying the football, it's usually being handed off to Stingily, who has 726 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on 133 rushes.
Two things at stake
Northern Illinois is once again in a position to crash the BCS, as it did a year ago by earning a trip to the Orange Bowl. The Huskies have plenty of work to do still, and they may need a little help as well, which would make losing to a team like UMass a crippling setback. The Huskies are also in a fight with Ball State for the MAC West title -- the Cardinals are just ahead of the Huskies in the standings at 5-0 in league play.
For UMass, there's little at stake aside from the opportunity to knock NIU out of the BCS picture. The Minutemen can't get to bowl eligibility, but if they can find another win or two the rest of the way, it would amount to progress over last year's one-win campaign.
How to witness
TV: NoonET, ESPN Regional
Radio: NIU's radio information is here. The UMass football broadcast can be heard locally on 105.5 FM WEEI, 1440 AM WVEI, 95.9 FM WATD or 91.1 FM WMUA.
Online streaming: WatchESPN
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