Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch (6) looks to pass during the second quarter of the Mid-American Conference championship NCAA college football game against Kent State, Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
• Saturday – at Iowa (L)
Huskies 0-8 all-time vs. Iowa
• Sept. 14 – at Idaho (W)
Easy win off bye week• Sept. 21 – Eastern Illinois (W)
It’s an FCS opponent at home
• Sept. 28 – at Purdue (L)
Always tough to beat Big Ten teams on road• Oct. 5 – at Kent State (W)
Rematch of MAC title game, same result
• Oct. 12 – Akron (W)
Shouldn’t have trouble with Zips at home
• Oct. 19 – at C. Michigan (W)
Even on road, Huskies will have no worries
• Oct. 26 – E. Michigan (W)
Backups could get plenty of playing time
• Nov. 2 – at UMass (W)
No trouble here
• Nov. 13 – Ball State (W)
Second-toughest MAC game for Huskies
• Nov. 20 – at Toledo (L)
Huskies always have trouble in Glass Bowl
• Nov. 26 – W. Michigan (W)
P.J. Fleck returns to DeKalb
Updated: September 30, 2013 2:06PM
Expectations are high for Northern Illinois this season. The Huskies are coming off a BCS bowl berth and second straight Mid-American Conference championship.
There’s plenty of talent back as well. Jordan Lynch became the first Football Bowl Subdivision QB to pass for over 3,000 yards and run for more than 1,500 a year ago, and he finished seventh in Heisman Trophy voting. His numbers will be tough to match, but he could be a better signal-caller this season.
He’ll have plenty of help on offense. NIU’s entire offensive line returns, including left tackle Tyler Loos, a second-team all-conference pick last year. He’ll protect Lynch’s blindside after missing the final three games of 2012, including the Orange Bowl, due to a broken tibia.
Martel Moore is a big loss at the wide receiver position, but the Huskies have the talent to replace him. NIU will miss seven starters on the defensive side of the ball, but the guys replacing them have experience. Middle linebacker Boomer Mays has four starts under his belt and should be an upgrade at the position, while defensive end Joe Windsor had seven sacks in a reserve role last year.
The schedule plays into NIU’s favor. The Huskies have two BCS teams on the road, Iowa and Purdue, but both are winnable games. Idaho and Eastern Illinois are NIU’s two other non-conference opponents, and the Huskies will be heavy favorites in both games.
Toledo and Ball State should challenge NIU in the MAC West, and the Huskies play at the Glass Bowl in Toledo, where they’ve always had a tough time.
NIU’s MAC crossover schedule is soft once again. Akron and UMass should provide easy victories, while the third opponent, Kent State, lost a lot of players from last year’s MAC East champ.
Getting to another BCS bowl game will be a longshot, but the Huskies are favored to win their third straight conference title.