AKRON, Ohio — Saturday, Northern Illinois did what everyone expected.
The Huskies dominated Akron. Sure, the Zips made the game interesting for a little bit, but it was all NIU.
It was an easy win for the Huskies, and there was no reason it shouldn't have been. Akron fell to 1-7 after NIU left InfoCision Stadium with a 37-7 win.
The Huskies had some tough calls earlier this season, having to come back in the fourth quarter to beat teams like Army, Kansas and Ball State.
However, the past two weeks, NIU has had two convincing wins, albeit against two bad teams. The Huskies still lit up the scoreboard, and could have easily scored more.
"Offense played good, defense played good," senior cornerback Rashaan Melvin said of Saturday's win. "We're just coming together as a team. Special teams as well. When we play three phases of the game … the majority of the time we come out with a win. So, that's what we have to be focusing on as a team."
Right now, this team certainly looks like a team headed to Detroit for the Mid-American Conference Championship Game. Really, it all comes down to one game. A game all Huskie fans have circled on their calendars — Nov. 14 against Toledo.
The Huskies will be favored at Western Michigan next week. The Broncos will most likely still be without starting quarterback Alex Carder. Las Vegas oddsmakers will have a tough time coming up with a line for NIU's Nov. 3 game vs. UMass. The regular-season finale at Eastern Michigan shouldn't be tough.
Games will still be played the next two weeks. Players will be focused on the Broncos and Minutemen. In reality, we all know what stands between the Huskies and Detroit — the Rockets and their high-powered offense.
Even if the Huskies we're to lose in Kalamazoo next weekend, they would still control their own destiny when it comes to competing for the MAC West title. NIU can afford to lose a game, as long as the Huskies take down the Rockets.
In the end, it all comes down to Toledo, who got a win over a Top 25 team Saturday, beating Cincinnati 29-23.
All season, other teams have had their eyes on NIU, something head coach Dave Doeren sure doesn't mind. With the exception of Iowa Week 1, opponents haven't done enough to take down the Huskies.
"I kind of felt that way when the season started to be honest with you, because we had the nation's longest winning streak going into the season. Nothing's changed. To be honest I'd rather have that target on my back than no target," Doeren joked. "But yeah, people are going to give us our best shot every game."
NIU will certainly have a huge target on its back when the Rockets come to down on a cold Wednesday night in November.