DeKALB – Jordan Lynch was efficient.
Leighton Settle averaged 5 yards per carry. Northern Illinois' young and inexperienced offensive line pushed around the Tennessee-Martin defense, and the defense forced three turnovers.
The Huskies might not have been perfect, but playing a Football Championship Subdivision opponent, they didn't need to be.
NIU got off to the start it needed, scoring three first-half touchdowns while the defense held its own once again in a 35-7 win over the Skyhawks. It's NIU's 16th straight victory at Huskie Stadium.
"When you're down 21-0 on the road, not a whole lot of fun," UT-Martin head coach Jason Simpson said.
Once again, Lynch showed his running ability isn't a joke. NIU often used the quarterback run play that was successful in Week 1 against Iowa, and Lynch for 60 yards on just 11 carries. In the third quarter, Lynch went up the middle 32 yards to the end zone, and was untouched after he got past the Skyhawks' defensive line.
When he dropped back to pass, Lynch went 19 of 25 for 214 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown throw to Martel Moore. It was a stark contrast to last week, when Lynch was just 6 of 16 for 54 yards.
"Playing in this offense, there are tons of guys around me – Leighton, Martel, Perez (Ashford), Tommylee (Lewis). They make me right most of the time," Lynch said. "We just threw a few bubble screens today and they went for 15 yards. They helped me out a lot and, when that starts to happen, it leaves the box empty for a quarterback run. The offensive line's doing a good job."
Lynch was able to take advantage of soft coverage by the UT-Martin defensive backs. NIU head coach Dave Doeren was pretty blunt in saying that NIU is going to take advantage of what the other team gives them, whether it's through the running game or the passing attack.
"Like I said last week, when teams play soft coverage on the receivers, we're going to throw the ball out there and we're going to let those guys do what they do. Jordan did a good job taking advantage of it and we had a couple shots down the field that he threw nice balls on," NIU head coach Dave Doeren said. " ... We're going to take what people give us. When we play a team that lines up with five in the box, we're going to run.
"This team lightened it up a little bit at times and Jordan did a nice job taking those opportunities."
Settle ran for 106 yards on 21 carries, showing once again that he's NIU's go-to back at the moment. He also had help from the offensive line, which opened up some gaping holes.
Both Doeren and Settle liked the blocking up front. NIU's junior running back was able to take advantage of it.
"It's the running back's job to find the holes and make something out of it," Settle said. "That's what happened."