Northern Illinois has a lot to play for in Friday's Mid-American Conference Championship Game, and you could consider that to be an understatement.
A win over Kent State, who's ranked No. 17 in the BCS standings, would give No. 21 NIU not only the MAC title, but a possible berth in a BCS bowl game.
There's obviously a ton at stake Friday, something the NIU players and coaches understand. However, the Huskies also know BCS talk is meaningless without a victory.
"Always a lot riding on the championship game but maybe more in this one than normal for our conference," NIU head coach Dave Doeren said at Monday's weekly press conference. "And that makes it even more fun as a coach, preparing for this one."
Doeren called the Golden Flashes' turnaround "remarkable" and said Kent State will be the best team NIU has played this season.
"I think obviously 11-1, you'd have to say they are. I thought Toledo was really good. I thought Ball State was really good," Doeren said. "But when you look at the body of work and the number of times they've won, you'd have to say they are."
Other notes from Monday's news conference:
• Going to a BCS bowl game could be huge when it comes to recruiting. Doeren said NIU's recent success has already benefited his team in that area. It also helps that the Huskies are the highest-ranked team in Illinois.
"It's opened a lot of doors for conversation. I can't tell you how many positive comments we get from the high school coaches in the state," he said. "Just how impressed they are with not just our play but how we recruit, how we treat them, the access they get here. We've never not allowed a high school coach to come in here and watch tape or come to practice, bring their teams. We give them open access to everything on our campus from a football standpoint.
"To back it up with the production from the players that we have here from the state of Illinois that are on our team are playing well, are doing well, are representing their programs well. There's some good vibes right now in-state, but it's still an uphill grind as always. There's competition for all these guys. But the way we're playing definitely helps."
• With Leighton Settle and Keith Harris Jr. out for the MAC Championship due to ankle injuries, junior tailback Akeem Daniels will get his share of carries once again.
Daniels had career-highs in yards (112) and touchdowns (4) in Friday's 49-7 win over Eastern Michigan.
"Akeem's a warrior. He wanted this," Doeren said. "He wanted to be the guy all year, and he wanted it last year."
— Steve Nitz, email@example.com, @SNitz_DDC on Twitter