Created:Tuesday, November 1, 2011 5:30 a.m.CDT

Take 2: MAC Game of the Year?


Daily Chronicle sports editor John Sahly and sports reporter Ryan Wood spend their days covering the area’s sports scene. Occasionally, they give their viewpoints on those local sports. In this installment of their 2011 Take 2 column, they discuss today’s Northern Illinois-Toledo game.

Sahly: Ryan, before the season even started, today’s NIU-Toledo game was pegged as the game of the year in the Mid-American Conference. You still feel that way?

Wood: Absolutely. It didn’t always look like this game would happen, at least not with these stakes. I wouldn’t have predicted it after NIU lost to Central Michigan to start its Mid-American Conference season. But the Huskies have had a remarkable midseason turnaround, and this game has turned into what everyone thought it would be. This is the Super Bowl of the MAC, the biggest game of the MAC season, with the league’s two best teams. Really, it should be a lot of fun, for everyone.

Sahly: OK, so then how do you think this one plays out? NIU coach Dave Doeren has talked about starting fast and taking the Toledo crowd out of it. If that happens, if the Glass Bowl crowd is mostly silent, I think the Huskies have a real shot at winning. If not, it’s going to be a long night for NIU.

Wood: There are two ways to look at it.

Can NIU win? Of course. This game is definitely winnable. Remember, the last time these two teams met, NIU won by five touchdowns. Nobody on either side has forgotten.

But will NIU win? That’s where the mystery is. These Rockets are much, much different than last season’s Rockets. They were picked to win the MAC and have started the conference season 4-0. Without a doubt, this is the Huskies biggest challenge of the MAC season.

Fans are going to have to wait for my prediction until our live blog about 30 minutes before the game. (Shameless plug, I know.) But let me throw your question back at you, John. Who wins tonight? What’s the score? And why?

Sahly: No shame in plugging that, NIU fans should head to it for all of the latest news before kickoff.

As to your questions, I think Toledo wins tonight based off of consistency and location. I think NIU is capable of pulling it off, but the Rockets are at home and have been a much more consistent team this season. Toledo 38, NIU 34.

Will NIU football win the MAC this season?