DeKALB – Northern Illinois looked like a team primed for another division title Saturday.
The Huskies' opponent, Massachusetts, looked like it didn't belong on the same field, and NIU scored at will in a 63-0 victory.
With a win over Toledo on Wednesday, Nov. 14, the Huskies will collect their third straight Mid-American Conference West Division title.
NIU (9-1, 6-0 MAC) had 610 yards of total offense Saturday. The Minutemen? Just 267. The game was effectively over by halftime, and NIU backup quarterback Matt McIntosh got some significant time in the second half.
Saturday's win marked the Huskies' first shutout since a victory over Eastern Michigan in 2008. The 63-point total is the ninth-highest mark in school history, and the nine touchdowns the Huskies scored is the fourth-most in NIU history.
Dave Doeren's team has done a good job of not looking past inferior opponents these past few weeks. Against subpar MAC East teams Buffalo and Akron, the Huskies had blowout wins.
Saturday, it was more of the same.
"I wanted to make it clear that we weren't going to look past UMass. Their staff, their players played hard; coached hard on film," Doeren said. "They came out and tried to fake a punt. They had some gadget plays that our guys did a nice job of staying home on. Just playing the game and I'm really proud of that."
McIntosh's experience didn't mean starting quarterback Jordan Lynch, who's the subject of an NIU Heisman Trophy campaign, didn't get his numbers. He ran for 157 yards and a touchdown, and threw for 191 yards and two touchdowns before being removed early in the second half.
It was Lynch's eighth straight 100-yard rushing game, which adds to his NCAA record for quarterbacks. It was also his ninth 100-yard rushing game of the year, which ties an NIU record.
UMass (0-9, 0-5 MAC) head coach Charley Molnar was impressed after watching Lynch do his thing.
"He's just so hard to tackle. Everything you do defensively, you have to defend him every single play," Molnar said. "You take your eyes off him, and they're really good with their deception. You don't know if he's got the ball or not. If he's got the ball and you didn't maintain eye discipline, you're going to lose him. Then, he's going to take off and kill you, which he did multiple times today."
Defensively, NIU was missing three starters in the secondary Saturday — safeties Jimmie Ward and Dechane Durante and cornerback Rashaan Melvin.
The Huskies' defensive unit had no problem overcoming those losses, forcing four turnovers and coming up with four sacks. All afternoon, it was NIU's defensive line having its way with the Minutemen's group of offensive lineman.
"It's always good to be out there with them boys," said Huskies starting middle linebacker Tyrone Clark, who had six tackles and a forced fumble, of his defensive line. "I was real excited to see them, especially Anthony Wells getting [a sack and two tackles for loss] today. I was excited to see them break loose like they always do."