Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 11/30/12
Both teams have surprised this season for different reasons, but each has been the dominant team in their conference and come into the game 8-0 in their respective division. Someone has to go home a winner, and the smart money goes with NIU, but don't write off Kent State as they aim to prove they're no "Flash" in the pan. Here are three predictions for the upcoming MAC title game to watch out for:1. No-one will ever say "who the hell is Jordan Lynch?" again.Remember Chandler Harnish? He was the outstanding pass/run option for the Huskies who ended up getting drafted by the Indianapolis Colts last April. Many, myself included, predicted that there would be some drop-off in play with Lynch, a little-used junior, taking over. Many, including myself, were very wrong. Lynch tore up all comers, rushing for 1611 yards and 16 TDs while throwing for 2750 yards and 23 TDs against just 4 interceptions. Considering the next leading rusher on the team, Leighton Settle, managed just 453 yards, Lynch was an tremendous one-man army and the best player outside the BCS. 2. Expect something of a running attack by both teams.Lynch is obviously the bell-cow for the Huskies, and is obviously productive as he was held to under 107 yards just once. Keep an eye out for short-yardage back Akeem Daniels, who saw increased action in the last game and racked up 112 yards and 4 TDs on 12 carries. The Golden Flashes have a great thunder-and-lightning combo at running back, with powerful Trayion Durham leading the charge with 1337 yards and 14 TDs. His job is to get the hard yards between the tackles. Their outside runner, Dri Archer, is not just a threat to score on any play, but he's also a threat to Lynch's "Best non-BCS player" crown. He not only ran for 1176 yards and 14 scores, but also caught 30 passes for 458 yards and 4 TDs, and averaged 38.2 yards per return on 15 kickoffs, scoring 3 times. Northern Illinois are allowing 144.75 rushing yards per game, and have had problems with the better running teams. Kent State is allowing 128 yards per game, but only 2 opponents have rushed for more than 100 yards in the last 5 games.3. Did I mention they play defense, too?It's not often a team gets to 11-1 without playing a little defense, and neither of these teams are any different. KSU probably have the marquee defender in DT Roosevelt Nix, who had 14 tackles for loss and 5 sacks, but the Huskies have a sterling pair of DEs in Sean Progar and Alan Baxter, who each had 8.5 sacks. Both teams are careful with the ball, with the Flashes ranking 2nd in turnover margin and NIU coming in 19th.Final Score:Kent State to win a close one, 27-24.
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