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‘State champion’ NIU eyes BCS bowl

Updated: November 26, 2012 1:02PM

Jordan Lynch is convinced his team could beat Illinois, which should

hardly fan flames of outrage after the Illini ended a disastrous 2-10

season with a 50-14 loss to Northwestern on Saturday But the Northern

Illinois quarterback and dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate also

believes the Huskies are better than the Wildcats.

What might at first sound like bold talk from the usually soft-spoken

Lynch has become a consensus opinion.

“We consider ourselves the best team in the state,” Lynch said when

asked if the Huskies would like to prove themselves against in-state

rivals from the Big Ten. “To be part of one of those rivalries, to

schedule Northwestern or Illinois for a game every year would be

tremendous. But we consider ourselves the best team in the state.”

The BCS standings concur, ranking NIU 21st and Northwestern 22nd, as

does virtually every other poll. These Huskies may not be household

names in Chicagoland but they are gaining respect of Top 25 voters.

The Associated Press Poll has NIU ranked 19th and NU 22nd. The USA

Today Coaches’ Poll (18th and 20th) and the Harris Poll (19th and

21st) agree.

“We’re starting to get more and more people writing about us in the

papers and I have a lot of friends back home starting to talk and text

me saying the word on the street is that Northern’s program is back

and they’re talking about us being the best team in the state of

Illinois,” said Lynch, who prepped at Mt. Carmel. “A lot of people are

talking about us right now.”

There’s more at stake than a second-straight Mid-American Conference

championship, a 12th straight win and a 17th straight conference win

when the Huskies meet Kent State on Saturday at Ford Field in Detroit,

Mich., in the MAC Championship game. The winner between two 11-1 teams

could receive a BCS bowl berth.

The Golden Flashes are ranked 17th in the BCS standings.

“It puts you on a national stage against another nationally known team

in a big underdog role, obviously,” NIU coach Dave Doeren said of what

a BCS bowl berth could do for his program. “It gives you a chance to

potentially do what Boise [State] did a couple of years ago when they

beat Oklahoma in their BCS game. I don’t know if we can pull off that

same feat but we would try.

“That’s what we want. We want that opportunity. If we could win this

football game and be 12-1 we would be deserving and I know whoever we

played against would get a very good football team.

Imagine how many people would be talking about the Huskies then.

“It would be huge,” Lynch said. “It would give us great publicity. To

play Friday on national TV, to show the world what we’re made of, and

if we can walk out of there with a victory, we could go to a BCS bowl

and really show the world what we’re made of. It could be huge for the


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