Final thoughts: NIU 31, Toledo 24
For the third year in a row, the Huskies are going to the Mid-American Conference Championship Game. NIU has been a second-half team all season, and it showed once again Wednesday, with the Huskies scoring 24 points in the second half in a 31-24 win on senior night.
All year, I've thought the Huskies were the favorite to take home the MAC West crown, and that's never changed. Going to the MAC Championship Game three years in a row is extremely impressive in a conference full of parody.
What else can you say about Jordan Lynch? Sure, he had two turnovers in the red zone, but 569 yards of total offense (a school record) says it all. At the same time, Martel Moore's effort — seven catches, 153 yards and two touchdowns, shouldn't go unnoticed. NIU is going to miss him next season.
End of the third quarter: NIU 28, Toledo 14
Ninety-nine yards in only 2:43. That's an impressive drive, and NIU accomplished the feat early in the third quarter. During the first half, the Huskies' offense just didn't look right. The aformentioned drive was a mirror of what Jordan Lynch and NIU offense has done this season.
NIU scored on three of its four drives in the third quarter. The Huskies should have had a fourth score, but Lynch was picked off by Toledo linebacker Dan Molls in the red zone on NIU's third drive of the period.
Lynch hasn't hit 100 rushing yards yet (he has 89), but has thrown for 379 yards and three touchdowns.
Halftime: Toledo 14, NIU 7
NIU's offense just doesn't look to be in sync so far tonight. Jordan Lynch can't seem to get going running the ball (3.8 yards per carry so far), and the Huskies haven't gotten the big play through the air either. Lynch's third-down fumble inside the red zone also cost NIU three points.
Defensively, the Huskies are playing a lot of soft coverage against Terrance Owens and the Toledo offense, guarding against the big play. However, the Rockets have been able to dink and dunk down the field. Owens has been very efficient as well (15 of 17 for 162 yards).
NIU has been a second-half team all season, and the Huskies will need a good 30 minutes in order to clinch the MAC West. NIU gets the ball sto start the third quarter.
End of the first quarter: Toledo 7, NIU 0
First of all, a couple of notes on injuries. Dechane Durante isn't out there at safety, and Demetrius Stone is taking his place once again. Durante hasn't played since Ball State, but was practicing last week. I did see him on the sideline. Also, Keith Harris Jr. isn't dressed either. Not sure what the deal there is.
Not a great start for the Huskies, who cost themselves three points with Jordan Lynch's red zone fumble. However, the defense got the ball right back when Toledo's David Fluellen fumbled on the ensuing drive.
Real solid crowd tonight, which could be Huskie Stadim's biggest of the season. So much for the debate over midweek games.
15 minutes until kickoff
It's senior night, and the winningest class in NIU history was just honored on the field. With kickoff around the corner, it's time for predictions.
Daily Chronicle NIU beat writer Steve Nitz: NIU 28, Toledo 21
Daily Chronicle sports editor Ross Jacobson: NIU 38, Toledo 28
30 minutes until kickoff
A few depth chart notes as we get ready for kickoff. Five of the starters who didn't play in the UMass win — cornerback Rashaan Melvin, safeties Jimmie Ward and Dechane Durante, middle linebacker Victor Jacques and wide receiver Perez Ashford, are all listed at the top of the depth chart.
It does look like Leighton Settle, who's missed the past two games, isn't on the depth chart. Akeem Daniels is listed as the starting running back while Keith Harris Jr. is second. Martel Moore didn't play in the second half of the UMass game with a minor shoulder injury, but he'll be out there today.
45 minutes until kickoff
The game everyone's been looking forward to is finally here. Both teams have players warming up on the field right now. Toledo is in its alternate gray uniforms with yellow helmets, with the Huskies in their all black combination.
While you're getting ready, check out our preview coverage from today's Daily Chronicle:
• I wrote about the recent rivalry between the Huskies Rockets
• Korcek's Corner: Is the exposure from weeknight games worth it?
• Also, Dave Doeren told Sirius Sattelite Radio Tuesday he's open to leaving for other coaching jobs
— Steve Nitz, email@example.com, @SNitz_DDC on Twitter