Northern Illinois got off on the right foot in its season-defining stretch by handling Ball State at home last week, and now the Huskies are hitting the road for another test -- this time against Toledo. The Rockets are coming in riding a five-game winning streak, and they remain a threat in the MAC West.
We could have a shootout on our hands considering how well these teams are moving the football this season. NIU leads the conference with an average of 7.1 yards per snap, while Toledo ranks second at 6.6. And both squads have been vulnerable at times on the defensive side -- they're each allowing more than 400 total yards per game.
Rankings and records: NIU is tops in the MAC West with a 10-0 (6-0) record. The Huskies rank 21st in the Coaches' Poll and 20th in the AP Poll. Toledo is 7-3 (5-1) this season, which has it in third place in the West. Toledo leads the all-time series, 28-11.
Vegas: Northern Illinois opened as a 3-point favorite.
Weather: It'll be chilly in Toledo, with temperatures in the 40s expected.
Three names to know
Jordan Lynch -- Over his last three games, Lynch is 52 of 65 passing for 728 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also has 341 yards rushing on 55 carries over time, as well as seven rushing scores. There may not be a hotter player in the country right now.
David Fluellen/Kareem Hunt -- Injuries have cost Fluellen some time this season, but he still leads the Rockets with more than 1,000 yards rushing. He's missed the last two games, and another absence would be a blow, but Hunt is proving to be a capable replacement. Hunt has gone for 100-plus yards in four straight games.
Tommylee Lewis -- The NIU receiver's numbers aren't gaudy, but he is averaging 7.4 catches per game. No one else on the team averages more than 4.1.
Two things at stake
NIU cleared a major hurdle by beating Ball State a week ago, but the Huskies can't relax with the Rockets lurking close behind them in the standings. Any shot at a BCS bowl bid would be dashed by a loss here, and they'd fall into a three-way tie for first in the West. A victory clinches the division for the Huskies.
Toledo will need some help even with a win over NIU, but the Rockets will be in pretty good shape. If they lose, of course, they're done. The Rockets can at least rest easy knowing they've already reached bowl eligibility, but there's still plenty more they could accomplish.
How to witness
TV: ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET
Online streaming: WatchESPN