For the fourth straight season, Northern Illinois has won the MAC West and is going to Detroit. The Huskies flipped a switch in the second half, elevating their play and outpacing Toledo across the board en route to a 35-17 win on the road.
The second half was all about Jordan Lynch, who once again stepped up and took over. The dual-threat Heisman-hopeful rushed for three touchdowns in the second half, willing NIU to the win. HE was nothing short of spectacular, finishing with 363 yards of total offense and those three second half scores. Oh, and he did it all without his top two receivers, Da'Ron Brown and TommyLee Lewis, both of whom missed the game with injuries.
If anyone had any doubts about just how good Lynch is, they were wiped away on a 99-yard drive in the fourth quarter. Starting from his own 1-inch line, Lynch drove the Huskies down the field, overpowering the defense with his sheer power and tenacity. He bowled his way into the endzone on a 1-yard run 15 plays later, putting the Huskies up two scores with under 10 left to play.
For the second straight week NIU's defense stepped up in the second half. After Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens outplayed Lynch in the first half, defenders Jimmie Ward, Paris Logan, and others, shut him down in the second half. Owens was flustered and forced to make questionable decisions. Logan picked him off at the end of the game to seal the win for NIU.
Owens finished the day with 235 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions on 17 of 29 passing.
A huge part to NIU's success tonight though was the defense's ability to shut down the Rockets' rushing attack. David Fluellen averaged more than 130 yards per game by himself coming into this game, but was held to just 54 yards on 15 carries in his first game back after missing two games with an ankle injury. NIU held Toledo to 184 total rushing yards, while putting up 364 yards of its own.
The victory gives the Huskies 24-straight conference wins, and 16-straight road victories, including seven this season.