Final thoughts: NIU 44, Kent State 37
I've watched plenty of football games and have covered my share as a writer as well. As far as good fun, exciting games go, the Huskies' MAC Championship Game win is hard to top.
As someone who was here in the press box for NIU's loss to Miami (Ohio) in 2010, I'll admit, when Kent State tied the game late in the fourth quarter, I immediately thought "here they go again."
But, what else can you say about Jordan Lynch? And Akeem Daniels for that matter, his 128-yard, clutch performance will probably get lost with everything else that happened.
In the end, the importance of this win can't be stated. With UCLA losing to Stanford Friday night, NIU could be busting the BCS with a Kansas State win over Texas Saturday night.
It will be an interesting weekend, to say the least.
End of the third quarter: NIU 27, Kent State 13
Jordan Lynch is now the NCAA's single-season rushing leader when it comes to quarterbacks. After his 43-yard run in the third quarter, Lynch broke Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson's record that was set two seasons ago. Lynch now has 132 rushing yards.
NIU looks like it's in control. However, crazier things have happened (see 2010). The Golden Flashes have the ball at the NIU 12-yard line facing a 3rd-and-8. Big play coming up.
Halftime: NIU 17, Kent State 10
Well, how is that for a turnaround? And NIU didn't even wait until the second half this time. Let me just give you some of the totals from the first half —
Total offense: NIU 245, Kent State 50
Rushing yards: NIU 111, Kent State 21
Passing yards: NIU 134, Kent State 29
First downs: NIU 15, Kent State 4
The scoreboard doesn't really show how dominant the Huskies have been. Who knows what the score would be without Angelo Sebastiano's fumble on a first-quarter punt return, which led to a Dri Archer TD, and Ryan Neir's 18-yard punt which led to a Kent State field goal.
I can't say enough about how good NIU's defensive line is playing, as the Huskies have six tackles for loss and two sacks so far. Junior defensive tackle Ken Bishop is having his best game of the season.
Still a long way to go, but fans have to be happy with the way NIU played in the second quarter.
End of the first quarter: Kent State 10, NIU 3
This is NIU's third straight year in the MAC Championship Game, while Kent State hasn't been relevant for 40 years. But watching the first quarter, you would think it was the other way around.
The Huskies have committed three penalties, and Angelo Sebastiano's fumble on a punt return was extremely costly, with Kent State getting great field position and Dri Archer running into the end zone from 15 yards out.
NIU did put together a nice drive late in the quarter to get on the board with a Mathew Sims 27-yard field goal. Jordan Lynch hasn't gotten a ton of room to run today, but did pick up 17 yards on a fourth down to keep the drive alive.
5 minutes until kickoff
The line for this game is NIU -7. I understand why the Huskies are favored, but to me Kent State isn't getting enough credit. I think we're in for a really good game tonight. Here's what the Daily Chronicle staff is going with prediction-wise:
Daily Chronicle NIU beat writer Steve Nitz: NIU 28, Kent State 24
Daily Chronicle sports editor Ross Jacobson: NIU 24, Kent State 17
Shaw Media sports reporter Jeff Arnold: NIU 27, Kent State 24
15 minutes until kickoff
As you've heard by now, both NIU and Kent State have a shot at playing in a BCS bowl. Representatives from the Orange and Sugar bowls are here, while the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl, GoDaddy.com Bowl and Famous Idaho Potato Bowl have also sent people. Yeah, these bowl representatives sure have hard lives.
A lot has to happen for the Huskies to bust the BCS, and the first care of business is beating the Golden Flashes. We'll see how NIU handles Dri Archer, and if the Golden Flashes can finally be the team to keep Lynch in check. Keep an eye on Kent State defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix, who has 14 tackles for loss.
45 minutes until kickoff
I've always been a proponent of playing the Mid-American Conference Championship Game on campus sites, but let me say this, there may not be a better neutral site to host the game at. Ford Field is a very nice venue located in downtown Detroit.
There were a lot of Huskie fans at the hotel, and I saw a decent amount of NIU logos and flags on cars driving east on I-94.
Still 45 minutes until kickoff, so the stands are fairly empty. It will be interesting which team owns the majority of the crowd tonight.
While you're waiting, check out our MAC Championship coverage from today's Daily Chronicle.
• Jordan Lynch has been the biggest part of NIU's success: I wrote a piece on his Heisman chances
• Everyone remembers Huskies kicker Mathew Sims' big kick in last season's game. Kickoff specialist Tyler Wedel could be big, with Kent State's Dri Archer handling kick returns. Daily Chronicle contributor Anthony Zilis wrote a story on NIU's special teams
• Preview story: NIU seeking second consecutive MAC championship
• 2012 NIU football: High and lowlights
— Steve Nitz, firstname.lastname@example.org, @SNitz_DDC on Twitter