KENT, Ohio – Wednesday, Nov. 13.
Go ahead and circle that date on your calenders and make plans to head out to Huskie Stadium for the game of the year in the Mid-American Conference West Division.
Ball State and its high-powered offense comes to DeKalb that night to take on Northern Illinois' own dynamic offensive attack, which once again proved it's more than just Jordan Lynch in Saturday's 38-24 win at Kent State. Lynch didn't have to do it all Saturday, as tailback Cameron Stingily had yet another superb efffort, running for 266 yards – on his birthday of all days.
Before the Huskies improved to 5-0, Ball State was busy crushing Virginia, 48-27, to improve to 4-1.
During the contest, Cardinals quarterback Keith Wenning became the school's all-time passing leader with 346 yards through the air. I'm not going to say he's as good as Jordan Lynch because of the NIU quarterback's running ability, but I don't think it's wrong to say Wenning, who has thrown for 300 or more yards in every contest, is putting himself in the same class.
Go ahead and look at the schedules for both teams leading up to their matchup. Actually, I'll just do it for you.
NIU has Akron and Eastern Michigan at home and has games at Central Michigan and UMass. Ball State hosts Central Michigan and Kent State and visits Western Michigan and Akron.
Obviously, we all know they play the games for a reason and Huskie fans saw what happened the last time NIU played Central at Kelly-Shorts Stadium in 2011 (to refresh your memory, NIU's last MAC loss).
Looking at the schedule this week, I figured Saturday's game at Dix Stadium would be NIU's last legitimate shot at losing before the Cards visit. And the Flashes gave NIU a battle. Dri Archer, who suffered an injury in Week 1 before returning last week, is a legitimate player, and he showed that with his kickoff return touchdown and 66-yard TD catch.
However, NIU's 698 yards of total offense were just too much for a Golden Flashes team which is a much different squad from the one which nearly upset NIU last year in Detroit.
Expect the Huskies and Cardinals to be favored by large marigins each week heading up to the Nov. 13 showdown. It doesn't necessarily decide the MAC West – NIU still has to visit Toledo's Glass Bowl on Nov. 20. The Rockets lost to Ball State in Muncie, Ind. last week but aren't yet out of the race.
However, Ball State and NIU have the two best offenses and two best quarterbacks in the conference. Both teams have played competitive games the past two seasons, with the Cardinals blowing second-half leads in 2011 and 2012.
For any writer like myself, or any NIU or Ball State fan, it's impossible not to look forward to this matchup.
• Steve Nitz covers Northern Illinois for the Daily Chronicle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.