123 combined points is a record for a regulation Mid-American Conference game; four short of the all-time mark set by, for some reason, Akron and Eastern Michigan in 2001. 17 combined touchdowns, however, is a MAC record. 1,117 yards is likely up there as well.
We now live in a strange new world where not only did 22 defensive players get kidnapped and/or had their thumbs taped to their palms, but Toledo is no longer on pace to be a runaway juggernaught in the MAC. An actual no-foolin' loss to the Huskies puts them back down to 4-1 in the MAC, tied with the very Northern team that bested them; Eastern Michigan sits right there at 3-1 and are darn near close enough to be considered tied for first in the division. NIU did this. Applaud them. Or blame them.
There is much to which must be adapted; many new lessons not explained to us by our forefathers. The world has now changed forever.
Sussman Rule of Blogging #41: When you can reference Final Fantasy III, you reference it — even if it needs to be forced.
So here's what changed on this fateful night:
Eric Page caught five touchdowns, which tied Marshall's Randy Moss for the most by one MAC receiver in one game. Chandler Harnish's six passing touchdowns by a MAC player was the most since Adam DiMichele of Temple torched EMU with as many — they were both one shy of Jose Davis' seven-TD game for Kent State in 1997.
And let's not forget Tommylee Lewis, whose back-to-back kickoff return touchdowns to start the game helped put 14 points on the board before Harnish even took a snap. His 212 kickoff return yards are the fourth most by a MAC player ever; tied with Brandon West. He's also the first person in FBS to return two kicks in a game since ... Eric Page, last year.
And it's not even a record by NIU-Toledo standards. In 2007 the Rockets put 70 points on 'em. That game also saw more combined yards. And the Huskies scored more on them last year.
But its most famous impact was that this defensive breakdown of a game delayed ESPN's presentation show of Major League Baseball's defensive awards. Additionally this game was more visible on the national radar because of some type of professional basketball labor negotiation snafu that delayed the start of their season, scheduled for last night. It also, as Chris Iott noted, probably set a record for most baseball writers watching a MAC football game, which is all we're really asking for here. Some crossover.
And what's a little crazy: I still think Toledo's defense is pretty solid. In their last four games they allowed just 19.5 points per. But they were short one T.J. Fatinikun (injury) and Bobo Rancifer (breakin' team laws, tsk tsk), so that may have had something to do with the 7.4 yards per rush.
If you're also feenin' for reasons why Toledo may have gave this game away ... they respected Lewis WAY too much on the kickoff. Look, his two kickoff touchdowns were sensational, but he had returned a total of eight kickoffs prior to this game. He's a true freshman but he's not a true star yet. He will be, once the weekly national awards will no doubt shower him with every special teams award imaginable, because he cosmically changed the pace of this game. Toledo would legitimately kick to him one more time, but from then on out strong-legged kicker Jeremiah Detmer was either instructed or chose to pooch the kickoff to about the 30-yard line, giving the Huskies amazing field position all night. A team as deep as Toledo should be able to kick it away and make a tackle. That was about 10 yards per kickoff they deferred. That's too much.
The first MAC football game of November's weeknight marathon has the potential to set the stage for what's going to be an exciting array of games. I wish I could believe that and hold the tenet dearly to my soul. But Wednesday night is going to be Temple and OHIO. It's another first-place decider game, this time in the MAC East, but they allow a combined 30.4 points per game. They average about 60 total, so anybody that makes it to 21 points (like NIU did on their first three possessions) will probably leave the game happy that they knocked off a virile contender to the MAC East commemorative plaque and $100 gas card.
It's not going to leave the audience all to captivated, unless of course the overtimes start racking up and it's a battle of field goals. This is the most likely outcome. 70-year-old men will love it.