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Northern Illinois’ success makes it target against Western Michigan

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Northern Ill.
AT Western Mich.

The facts: 11 a.m., Ch. 50, 670-AM.

Updated: November 28, 2012 6:13AM

DeKALB — With four games to go in the regular season, Northern Illinois — winner of two straight Mid-American Conference West titles and the league championship last year — has a bull’s-eye on its back.

Today in Kalamazoo, Mich., Western Michigan will be the team gunning for the Huskies as they look to win their eighth straight game and remain unbeaten in the MAC. The Huskies embrace being the hunted.

‘‘You’ve got to love it,’’ defensive end Sean Progar said. ‘‘That means you’re doing something right. It means the program’s on the rise, and everybody’s working and we deserve it.’’

When the season started, Western Michigan was widely expected to compete for the MAC West title along with NIU and Toledo. However, the Broncos are just 3-5 and 1-3 in the MAC, fighting to become bowl-eligible.

One reason for the lack of success has been the loss of quarterback Alex Carder, a second-team All-MAC selection a year ago who suffered a hand injury Sept.  22 in a win over Connecticut. Tyler Van Tubbergen has started in his place the last four games, and Western Michigan has won just one of those games — against winless Massachusetts.

‘‘If NIU beats NIU,’’ Progar said, ‘‘then we’ll lose the game. If we play how we’re supposed to, then we’ll win the game.’’

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