Hustle Belt Predicts the 2013 Mid-American Conference Championship Game

The NIU Huskies won a thrilling game last year to capture their 2nd straight MAC Championship. Tonight they look to make it 3 in a row, but the BGSU Falcons are looking to steal the show. - Dave Reginek

The 2013 Mid-American Conference Championship game is tonight so we here at the Hustle Belt got together and threw down some predictions as only we can do: Full of insight, pop culture references and plenty of puns.

HuskieJWN

Bowling Green’s defense and NIU’s offense are both humming right now. They are the two hottest teams in the MAC, right now. There’s a lot at stake for NIU, probably more than any MAC team has ever had, a possible Heisman finalist and a chance for repeat BCS bowls. Both teams had to play quasi semi-finals to get here. NIU had more of a tournament setting having to win two straight games to get to Detroit, and BG having to beat Buffalo to get there.

The biggest talk has been BG’s D vs. NIU’s O; and rightfully so, it is a good match-up on paper. However, after seeing what will be on the field for both teams, I see a clear advantage. That advantage belongs to the Huskies. I expect a great game, because conference title games are usually close and both teams are playing excellent football.

However, I have a hard time believing a MAC team without Jordan Lynch is going to be a MAC team with Jordan Lynch. They won’t put up their usual 43 points, but BG won’t shut them down. NIU has too many weapons, too much experience, and 216 pounds of Superman on their roster. I also think NIU’s defense can contain the misdirection runs BG will run at them. It won’t be a blowout, but NIU has too much on the line and Detroit is like a second home for the dogs.

Northern Illinois 37, Bowling Green 27

Matt Daley

Bowling Green and Northern Illinois are playing at an elite level right now, so this should be an outstanding game. While much of the press has discussed NIU's offense and BGSU's defense, the opposite match-up is just as enticing. Both BGSU's offense and NIU's defense are very underrated units with play-makers on all levels. For both teams, this should easily be the biggest challenge they've faced all season. And there's so much at stake here that nobody should have a problem getting psyched for the game.

I believe this comes down to the little things: which team forces more turnovers and penalties, which team is more successful on third down and in the red zone. As much as I want to say that Bowling Green will win, I think NIU's experience at this level plays a role, and inexperience-fed mistakes by BGSU help NIU score just enough to win.

In what should be a close and thrilling contest throughout...Northern Illinois 27, Bowling Green 24.

Thomasmcelgunn

Jordan Lynch gets knocked out of the game on a late hit with 13:00 to go in the first quarter. Backup Matt McIntosh throws for four touchdowns and 285 yards. Cameron Stingily runs for 105 yards and a 10 yard touchdown. He also throws for a touchdown on an option pass to Tommylee Lewis.

NIU holds BG to 145 yards of total offense and dominates time of possession 37:00 to 23:00. BG's only points come on a blocked PAT returned for a score. At halftime, Rod Carey announces that he is leaving NIU to take the head coaching job at Florida. Former USC interim coach Ed Orgeron is brought in to lead the Huskies in the second half.

Northern Illinois 41, Bowling Green 2

SethAustin

They say defense wins championships. I don't care. Jordan Lynch will make the BG defense look like they belong in the MAAC, which, oh by the way, folded as a football conference in 2007. Matty J is no Jimmy G, so I'm not concerned that NIU doesn't handle Bowling Green the way they did Ball State and Toledo.

We Want Bama.

Northern Illinois 38, Bowling Green 24

Zach Harig

With all of the BCS talk going on with the Huskies, it's safe to say they will feel a fair share of pressure. However, quarterback Jordan Lynch has proven he can come up with clutch performances in big time games, and that's what I expect to see in the MAC Championship. Bowling Green has an incredible offensive line with David Kekuewa and Dominic Flewellyn and they have weapons behind that big offensive line in quarterback Matt Johnson and running back Travis Greene. I expect the ball to be in Johnson's hand for a majority of the night due to Lynch and the Huskies' high-powered offense putting points on the board.

For the Huskies, as we all expect; Lynch will carry them. I don't expect the pressure to get to Lynch. However, I expect the Falcon secondary to provide some problems early on in the contest, especially behind defensive back BooBoo Gates. Lynch may have early trouble with Bowling Green, but the offense won't take too long to get going.

Match-ups are going to be a major thing for both the Husky receivers and Falcon secondary. Don Carey may also look to Tommylee Lewis on some jet sweeps or end-arounds early in the game to take some pressure off of Lynch. Before it's all said and done, I expect Lynch to have another breakout game against a tough Bowling Green defense.

Northern Illinois 34, Bowling Green 27

James Kelley

Winter is coming, but Jordan Lynch is on fire so he has no need for such things.

Northern Illinois has been on a war path since the beginning of MAC play and has left a trail of broken teams in its wake. The Huskies have an outside shot at a BCS bid for the second year in a row and will stop at nothing to make it so. Bowling Green has been fun to watch and might have the defense to hold Lynch in check.

Just not on this day. Northern Illinois 40, Bowling Green 27

thechuck_2112

Jordan Lynch is a legitimate Heisman contender, putting together one of the best individual seasons in college football history to cap off an incredible career. In the popular imagination, Lynch is Northern Illinois and Northern Illinois is Lynch. Bowling Green, on the other hand, has flown under the radar all season while putting together one of the best defensive performances for a MAC team in years: 7th in the nation in yards allowed, 5th in the nation in scoring. And they've done it without the individual accolades you expect out of such a defense; Boo Boo Gates was the only Falcon defender named to the All-MAC first team.

Teams nowhere near as good as Bowling Green have put the fear of God in the Huskies: even FCS Eastern Illinois took them to the wire in DeKalb. I want Northern Illinois to win so Miami gets that BCS cash, but I think we'll learn, once again, that while an incredible offensive player can win games, it's defense that wins championships.

Bowling Green 28, Northern Illinois 24

alexalvarado13

Jordan Lynch gets off to a rocky start, throwing an interception on the very first play of the game & Travis Greene runs in a 32-yard score on BG's first offensive play. But no worries, Lynch does what Lynch does best, and that's run all over the place. Finishing the day with 308 rushing yards and 9-for-12 in the air for 152 yards, Lynch puts together 4 scores on his own and the defense holds down Greene the rest of the way.

Northern Illinois 38, Bowling Green 18

Matt Sussman

Five minutes of luminescent hope, followed by three hours of joyless tears.

Northern Illinois 38, Bowling Green 13

rovitz707

I will be in the MLive office wearing my Antonio Brown CMU jersey, probably sitting furthest from the TV that will have the game on, but won't say anything because I don't want to ruin anyone around me's night of EXCITING NBA BASKETBALL! I will hang out in the Hustle Belt thread, making a few snide comments while I try to take phone calls, and write up game recaps on girls high school basketball. Every now and then I will refresh the Hustle Belt discussion to see if any of my comments have turned green from getting enough "rec"s. At least twice I will start giggling uncontrollably from a comment in the thread, and the people around me will look over and wonder what the hell is wrong with me. At least two Dr. Pepper's and some Skittles will be consumed.

Northern Illinois 31, Bowling Green 21.

Tim Abel

Bowling Green comes out of the locker room fired up, and jumps out to an early 10-point lead. Lynch settles into a groove, but his defense can’t seem to get off the field on 3rd downs and the Falcons take a halftime lead. Inspired by a halftime speech, NIU takes the lead heading into the 4th, only to see Bowling Green score on their first two drives of the final quarter to take the lead.

Lynch gets ready to lead the Huskies for a potential game-winning drive with under three minutes on the clock, when suddenly the power goes out, because Detroit. A shadowy green figure is seen moving in the rafters. When suddenly, through the loudspeakers… "It’s always you, it’s never nobody else! It’s you, it’s you, and it’s who you are." A spotlight shines as Ron English skydives to the field and takes a steel chair to the back of Rod Carey’s head, and then begins making his way towards Lynch.

Pandemonium has broken out on the field, but the fans in the stands are going crazy. Well, both of them are, anyway. Lynch sits unsuspecting, checking Kayak for cheap flights to New York, you know, just in case. As English raises the chair ready to strike, the lights fully kick in, and… why, we haven’t heard that music in years! It's the tag-team of Harnish & Kill, back to make up for 2010! Chandler Harnish manages to take out English and hold him down long enough for security to arrive, while Jerry Kill wrests the headset off of an unconscious Carey, and coaches Lynch and the Huskies to a game-winning touchdown on the last play of the game.

Northern Illinois 34, Bowling Green 31.

Brown and Gold

It's the classic battle of an undefeated MAC West team with BCS hopes versus a MAC East team looking for their first MAC Championship Game victory after their first MAC East title. One team has a red-hot QB, the other is a pretty decent team. The year isn't 2008, but you could see the similarities.

Jordan Lynch has been nearly unstoppable and is a dark-horse for the Heisman. A huge game coupled with a Winston debacle in Tallahassee could be enough to push him into the driver's seat. However, he has yet to face a defense as stingy as the Falcons. They play a solid team defense, and if the BGSU offense can show up like they have lately, this could get ugly for the MAC.

I honestly think the Falcons will put together a complete game and pull off the upset, much to the dismay of everyone else. I nearly called the game last year, but a failed TE pass screwed me over. Not this year.

Bowling Green 31, Northern Illinois 14.

Culby

Old Rival and New Rival? I'm rooting for a Mexico City-esque electrical fire.

Northern Illinois 35, Bowling Green 31.

matt24eli

All eyes are on Northern Illinois as they strive for their second straight BCS Bowl appearance and Jordan Lynch makes a last ditch effort for the Heisman trophy. Northern Illinois was the preseason MAC favorite and backed that up with an undefeated regular season. Since an upset loss to Toledo in late October, Bowling Green has been dominant on both sides of the ball and looks like a legitimate threat to unseat the Huskies. Jordan Lynch has been playing on an unprecedented level, but has yet to play a defense like the Falcons. I think he will struggle early and the Huskies will fall behind in the first half. As the game goes on and pressure mounts, Northern Illinois’ experience will prove paramount as they capture the lead and hold on with a few Heisman Moments™ from Jordan Lynch.

Northern Illinois 34, Bowling Green-28

Bryan M Vance

Jordan Lynch is the man on fire, igniting into a ball of flames as he twirls his way into the hearts of college football fans across the country, tossing defenders left and right as he goes. But, the Falcons are hungry and ready to swoop in and steal the show. No worries though, because Colonel Mission, the valiant Husky will sprint in to eat those birds, feathers and all. With only Dave Clawson left on the field Lynch plows him over for the game-winning touchdown and keeps on running straight through the end zone: His next stop? NYC to get his pose on.

Northern Illinois 38, Bowling Green 26

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