Northern Illinois is ranked in the Top 25 in both major national college football polls for the first time since 2010 as the 10-1 Huskies checked in at number 24 in the Associated Press weekly poll Sunday and are number 23 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll.
NIU earned 144 points in this week’s Associated Press Poll and is ranked just behind Mid-American Conference East Division champion Kent State, who collected 155 points from the media voters.
In the USA Today rankings, NIU totaled 149 points from the coaches to check in at number 23. That total puts the Huskies ahead of No. 24 Mississippi State by 50 points while Kent State is 25th with 86 points.
This week marks the first time since 2003 that two MAC teams have been ranked in the Top 25.
NIU moved into the Top 25 after spending the last two weeks just outside of that group in both polls. The Huskies led the “Also Receiving Votes” category in both rankings on Nov. 4 and were 27th in AP and 26th in the USA Today Coaches’ poll a week ago.
Northern Illinois defeated Toledo, 31-24, Wednesday night at Huskie Stadium to clinch its third straight MAC West Division title and trip to the MAC Championship game at Detroit’s Ford Field on Nov. 30. NIU now has won 10 games or more for the third straight season and the Huskies are the only team in the country to win 19 of their last 20 games.
Northern Illinois, which has won 10 straight games after a one-point loss to Iowa to open the 2012 season, entered the Top 25 for the first time since 2010, when the Huskies went to the Mid-American Conference Championship game as AP’s No. 24 team and were No. 23 in the USA Today ranking. The Huskies have finished each of the last two seasons in the “Also Receiving Votes” category after winning their bowl games.
NIU is in the polls for just the 12th week in school history.
In addition to the one week appearance in 2010, NIU spent two weeks in the USA Today Coaches’ rankings in 2004 where they rose to No. 22 on Nov. 7. The Huskies spent eight weeks in both the AP and USA Today polls in 2003, achieving the school’s high-water mark of No. 12 in the AP poll (Oct. 12 and Oct. 19) and No. 14 (Oct. 19) in the Coaches’ ranking.
Northern Illinois takes on Eastern Michigan at noon Friday, Nov. 23, in Ypsilanti, Mich., to close out the 2012 regular season. The game can be viewed online on ESPN3.com.