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Jordan Lynch’s exit leaves huge hole at NIU

Northern Illinois running back Akeem Daniels (3) is chased by Kent State cornerback Darius Polk (1) safety Luke Wollet (39)

Northern Illinois running back Akeem Daniels (3) is chased by Kent State cornerback Darius Polk (1) and safety Luke Wollet (39) during the second quarter of the Mid-American Conference championship NCAA college football game on Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

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Updated: September 29, 2014 12:12PM

Northern Illinois returns a number of key players from its high-scoring offense of 2013.

Back are speedy wide receiver Tommylee Lewis, tailback Cameron Stingily (who will miss the start of the year because of injury), and all five starters on the offensive line. Akeem Daniels, the starting running back on the 2012 Orange Bowl team, also returns after missing all of last season with a foot injury.

However, the main cog in the Huskies’ attack, quarterback Jordan Lynch, has moved on and is looking to make the Bears as a running back.

Lynch bailed the Huskies out of tough situations so many time in his two years as the starter. As a senior, Lynch averaged 343.7 yards of total offense per game, fifth-best in the country. He was rewarded with his second consecutive Mid-American Conference MVP and finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting.

Who will take the first snap in Thursday’s season opener against Presbyterian remains a question mark. Coach Rod Carey has yet to name a starting quarterback. Junior Matt McIntosh and sophomores Anthony Maddie and Drew Hare have competed for the position since spring ball and Carey has said each has gotten better.

Don’t be surprised if all three see time in the season opener.

NIU’s defense returns key members such as linebacker Jamaal Bass, safety Dechane Durante and defensive end Jason Meehan, but has a lot to replace on the line. The secondary could see a number of true freshmen take the field. The biggest loss on defense is safety Jimmie Ward, who was a first-round pick of the 49ers.

The Huskies will be right in the mix for their fifth consecutive MAC West title, with Ball State and Toledo being their closest competitors in the division.

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