Back-to-back: Huskies take MAC title again

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Northern Illinois linebackers Michael Santacaterina (52) and Tyrone Clark (36) celebrate an interception by teammate Dechane Durante (not pictured) in the second quarter. The Northern Illinois University Huskies took on the Kent State Golden Flashes in the MAC conference championship game at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich. on Friday. (Kyle Bursaw –

DETROIT — Northern Illinois has gone back-to-back.

For the second consecutive year and third time in school history, the Huskies are Mid-American Conference champions after beating Kent State, 44-37, in double overtime at Friday's MAC Championship Game at Ford Field.

With the win, NIU (12-1) gave itself a shot at a BCS bowl berth. Should the Huskies finish in the top 16 in the BCS standings and ahead of a conference champion from one of the six automatic-qualifying leagues, NIU will be headed to a BCS bowl. The Huskies should finish ahead of the Big East champion.

Just like last year's victory over Ohio, this one wasn't easy. After being down 14 points in the second half, Kent State (11-2) fought back to send the game into overtime. In the second OT period, the Huskies got the ball first and quarterback Jordan Lynch scored a 2-yard touchdown run to put NIU up by seven.

The Huskies got the win after Golden Flashes QB Spencer Keith was picked off by Demetrius Stone on fourth-and-8 from the NIU 9-yard line.

After having a hard time finding room to run early, Lynch did what he's done all year, running for 160 yards and three touchdowns, extending his NCAA record with his 11th straight 100-yard rushing game. He threw for 212 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

With his 43-yard fourth-down run in the third quarter, the junior broke Michigan QB Denard Robinson's single-season record for rushing yards for a quarterback.

The Huskies had 524 yards of total offense compared to just 260 for Kent State.


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Will NIU football win the MAC this season?