Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish on Monday was named the Mid-American Conference West Division's Offensive Player of the Week for the second time in seven games this season.
This one, certainly, came at no surprise. Harnish led NIU to a 51-22 win against Western Michigan on Saturday, recording a rare 200-200 game in the process. The senior threw for 203 yards and ran for 229 on 14 carries (16.3 yards per rush), only the 10th player in Football Bowl Subdivision history to surpass 200 yards in both.
Harnish, who also won the award after NIU's win against Army in the opener, ranks fourth in the MAC with 671 rushing yards and a league-high 8.2 yards per carry. His 2,218 yards of total offense are also best in the MAC, 204 yards ahead of second-place Alex Carder of Western Michigan.
Now, to take a look around the rest of the league, here are some links to new that happened with other MAC programs last weekend.
IN THE WAKE
WMU loss worse in historical context: Leaving Huskie Stadium on Saturday, you knew NIU's offense had just thoroughly dominated Western Michigan. In historical context, as Graham Couch of the Kalamazoo Gazette writes, it was even worse than we first thought.
NIU's 697 yards were the fourth most a MAC defense had allowed in history, and the most Western Michigan's had specifically coughed up since the program's earliest box scores in 1943. Same for the Huskies 497 rushing yards. The last time the Broncos had even allowed 400 was 1988.
Good stuff from Couch to put some context on what happened Saturday.
THE LOOK AHEAD
Bulls get the stampede: NIU definitely doesn't want to tuck that dominant running game it showed last week away. Against Buffalo, a team that got ran over by MAC East-leading Temple last week, those holes the Huskies offensive line opened will come in quite handy. The Owls rushed for 404 yards against the Bulls on Saturday.
THE REST OF THE WEST
Rockets battling injuries: Less than two weeks from NIU's biggest showdown of the season – a Nov. 1 game against Toledo in the Glass Bowl – it's not too early to start talking about the Rockets. And taking a glance over to northwest Ohio, it's not pretty.
As the Toledo Blade's Zach Silka writes, the Rockets were without three defensive starters because of injury during its 28-21 win Saturday against archrival Bowling Green. And that didn't include safety Mark Singer, who was already lost for the season with a torn labrum. The injuries touched every facet on the defense: defensive end T.J. Fatinikun, strong safety Jermaine Robinson, and middle linebacker Danny Molls.
Hopefully, the Rockest will be as close to full strength Nov. 1. You never want to see injuries influence huge games. Even if you're NIU, you would prefer to beat Toledo at its best. But it looks like the possibility exists.
Eagles, Cardinals with four wins: Nobody saw this coming. And I don't mean that as a cliche way to describe how surprising it is Eastern Michigan and Ball State have both turned into respectable, four-win teams. I mean, literally, NOBODY predicted this.
The West's bottom dwellers, as they were supposed to be, aren't very close to the floor right now. Eastern Michigan just stunned Central Michigan – you know, that time NIU lost to when its defense gave up 48 points – with a 35-28 win in Mt. Pleasant.
Meanwhile, Ball State had an even better win, beating Ohio 23-20 in Athens. The Cardinals were two-touchdown underdogs going in.
With the Eagles and Cardinals two wins from bowl eligibility – and both with small but legitimate chances to get that sixth victory – the MAC West's real bottom dweller is Central Michigan. The team NIU lost to after falling behind 17-0 after the first quarter. And you wonder why the call the West wild.
– Ryan Wood, @rwood_DDC on Twitter, firstname.lastname@example.org