Road warriors: Huskies head to Massachusetts

Jordan Lynch and Matt McIntosh

Jordan Lynch and Matt McIntosh

One week after Jordan Lynch became only the second FBS player in the last decade to catch a touchdown pass, run for a TD and pass for four more scores in the same game, the red-hot quarterback is invading Tom Brady’s house.

It’s the sixth road game this season for NIU’s undefeated Huskies, who continue to climb in all of the college football polls and are up to No. 17 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings.

This spotless fall reigns most supreme since NIU entered the “Major College” ranks in 1969, and is NIU’s hottest start since the 1965 team posted a 9-0 regular season record before losing the Mineral Water Bowl. Members of the 2013 senior class have never lost a regular season game.

And did we mention that NIU has won more road games than any other FBS team this fall, boasting the country’s second-best winning streak away from home with 14 consecutive victories?

The Patriots and their fans need not worry, though. NIU is traveling to Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium this Saturday for an 11 a.m. (CT) kickoff versus the UMass Minutemen.

Although the Minutemen are 1-7 this year and were on the wrong side of a 63-0 result last season in the first and only game with the Huskies, NIU coach Rod Carey is not letting his team relax.

Boomer Mays

Boomer Mays

“I haven’t gotten the chance to watch a ton of film yet, but as far as I’ve seen, they can move the ball, they get people lined up outside. They’ve got a very versatile offense, I would say,” linebacker Boomer Mays said. “We know our rankings, but we have the mindset of every week, we’re 0-0, and we have to face our next opponent, and we’re looking forward to Saturday.”

UMass is “playing good football. It’s going to be a challenge for us. We have a long flight out there … and then we have an early kickoff,” Carey says.

“They are playing inspired football, and they are playing really good at home. They were really struggling offensively to score points and then last week they score 30 points, and really it should have been 32 and gotten the win,” he adds.

“They’re a lot more athletic (than last year), I can tell you that. Defensively, they move around quite a bit more. They are changing directions better. They have a cornerback who also returns kicks for them, who I think is one of the best in this league hands down, and he’s only a sophomore.”

Fans can watch the action on ESPN Regional or listen on WSCR 670 AM, WLBK 1360 AM and 98.9 FM or WTJK 1380 AM (Janesville, Wis.).

Joel Bouagnon

Joel Bouagnon

Good news: Cameron Stingily is expected to return alongside the other running backs who’ve stepped up in his absence to heal from turf toe.

That group includes true freshmen Draco Smith, who moved to running back from the corner position, and Joel Bouagnon, whose red shirt was pulled last week after Carey received the news of Stingily’s unavailability.

Smith rushed for 51 yards on two carries while Bouagnon added 35 yards on 10 carries in Saturday’s 59-20 thumping of Eastern Michigan.

“That’s why we all practice. There’s never one person more important in the room than another,” Carey says.

“With the injuries that can always happen, and have happened to our running backs, you want to go ahead and stay ahead of the curve,” he adds. “I saw some good things out of Joel. I can tell you this, and he’ll tell you this too, he’d better learn how to lower his pads. He’s used to running high school pad level. He did a good job and learned to lower his pads – and he’ll get better.”

For more information on NIU football and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.

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