Quick Hit: Northern Illinois vs. Kent State

By John Harris
November 28, 2012

In the MAC Championship this weekend, Kent State is playing with a lot on the line, writes John Harris.

MAC Championship

Detroit, MI

Of all the games that'll determine championship winners this weekend, this one is the most intriguing.  First of all, it's the only championship game matchup that includes two 11-1 teams that were also undefeated in conference play.  Not the B1G.  Not the Pac 12.  Not even the SEC.  The MAC.

NIU won its final 11 games of the season after losing by one to Iowa in the team's opener.  Kent State lost to Kentucky in the second game of the season and has won ten in a row.  Each has a win over a BCS foe -- NIU beat Kansas, while Kent State knocked off Rutgers in Piscataway.

Beyond that, there is the opportunity for Kent State to get inside the all too important top 16 in the BCS standings.  Kent State, currently at 17 in the BCS, could shoot up into the top 16 with a win combined with some losses by teams in front of it.  NIU, on the other hand, would need much more to happen to move from its current slot at #21.

Either way, these two have been on a collision course for a while.  Kent State's offense revolves around the two back combination of Dri Archer (Lightning) and Trayion Durham (Thunder).  Archer's quickness is one thing, but together with Durham's power, the two complement each other extremely well.

Northern Illinois must get them off the field by tackling well.  If it does, it gives the ball back to one of the most balanced offenses in the nation, led by QB Jordan Lynch.  Kent State's defense has gotten shredded through the air and is the biggest concern in this game.  That will be the key - Lynch throwing the ball over the top of the Kent State defense.  Lynch will have a strong game throwing the ball and keep Kent State from utilizing its 1-2 combination in the run game to pound on the NIU defense.

Northern Illinois - 34 vs. Kent State - 30