Northern Illinois' quick tempo, high octane offense has been a staple of MACtion since the arrival of Dave Doeren before the 2011 season. The names Jordan Lynch, Chandler Harnish, and Drew Hare have flourished in a system based around the quarterback power and read option schemes.
One could argue the #14 player on our list of top 70 MAC football players, Andrew Ness, has been as key of a component as any in the recent success of the program.
After redshirting during the 2011 season, Ness was forced to fill the big shoes left by Scott Wedige's graduation. He delivered a shotgun snap to Jordan Lynch on the first offensive play of the game in Soldier Field against Iowa and has never looked back.
His 42 starts, including three MAC Championship games and three bowl games (including the 2013 Discover Orange Bowl) make Ness the most experienced player in the country heading into the 2015 season.
During his three seasons, the Huskies' offense has sported one of the top running games in the country.
His freshman campaign saw the Huskies average 38.8 points per game, good for 13th in the country. The 470 yards of total offense and 232 rushing yards per game both led the MAC and ranked in the top 20 of the country, helping the Huskies earn the first BCS Bowl birth in Mid-American Conference history.
The 2013 season was a historic season for the NIU offense. Ness blocked for a group of quarterbacks and running backs who totaled a school record 4,161 rushing yards, including a pair of 1,000 rushers in Lynch and Cameron Stingily. The 39.6 points per game the Huskies offense racked up was also a school record.
Having to replace Jordan Lynch with a trio of quarterbacks heading into the 2014 season before finally settling on Hare, the offense took a step back. The Northern Illinois running game, anchored by Ness, still was more than productive. The Huskies rushed for 3,488 yards and 36 touchdowns, and Ness was rewarded with first team All-MAC honors.
In the MAC Championship game, the offense had their best game of the season. The Huskies put up 51 points, 552 yards, and captured their third MAC Championship in four years.
The O'Fallon, Missouri, native heads into his senior season with hopes of capturing his third Mid-American Conference Championship, as well as aspirations to play in the NFL. Standing six foot, three inches and weighing 313 points, Ness has the combination of size, talent, and experience to land him a look in next April's NFL Draft.