Lynch-led Northern Illinois football fulfilling Doeren’s promise
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media November 15, 2012 11:04PM
Updated: December 19, 2012 1:03PM
Last season, his first as Northern Illinois’ head coach, Dave Doeren wasn’t satisfied with his team’s progress.
Sure, the Huskies won their first MAC title since 1983. But Doeren wasn’t just focused on building a successful football team. He wanted to construct a program that could sustain success each season.
After Wednesday’s 31-24 win over Toledo at Huskie Stadium, which clinched the MAC West title and a spot in the MAC Championship game, Doeren can say he’s on the road toward building the type of program that’s annually relevant.
The Huskies will look to earn back-to-back conference titles with a victory in the Nov. 30 conference championship game in Detroit.
“Anytime you can share sustained success, that’s the measure of a great program,” Doeren said after defeating Toledo. “When you go there, then you’re absent for a while, then you go back — that’s good. But to be a great program, you have to have sustained success.”
Northern Illinois put its progress on display Wednesday in front of a nationally televised audience.
In a momentum-swinging third quarter, the Huskies showed how explosive their offense can be.
Quarterback Jordan Lynch, who leads the country with 1,504 rushing yards, threw for 296 yards in the third quarter, helping the Huskies score on three of their four possessions in the frame.
Lynch finished 25-for-36 for a career-high 407 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 162 yards on a career-high 30 carries, becoming the first player in Division-I history to throw for more than 400 yards and rush for over 150 in the same game.
“They were packing it in quite a bit, so we thought we could get outside on the screen package that we run,” Doeren said. “Let the perimeter guys make some plays, and they did. We thought our tempo could get them tired, and it did.”
The Huskies will put their 15-game conference winning streak on the line next Friday at Eastern Michigan in a regular-season finale. But the result won’t have any bearing on their standing in the conference.
Northern Illinois will await the result of Saturday’s Kent State/Bowling Green contest. A victory for Kent clinches the MAC East title and a spot in the conference championship game.