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Top 25 of 2013: Gridiron glory

December 26, 2013
Jordan Lynch

Jordan Lynch

As 2013 draws to a close, NIU Today offers a look back at 25 of the top stories from the year.

No. 5

NIU’s football team, guided by first-year head coach Rod Carey and Heisman Trophy candidate Jordan Lynch, tore through the 2013 football season without a loss.

After beating Iowa in a revenge game and slipping past both NIU President Baker’s most-recent employer and the hot quarterback of Eastern Illinois, the team trounced Purdue.

By the time the Huskies began Mid-American Conference play, they had defeated two Big Ten teams – and, yes, that’s equal to the number of Big Ten wins achieved by Illinois, Northwestern and Purdue combined.

Lynch and Co. then confidently and proficiently dispatched Kent State, Akron, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Massachusetts, Ball State, Toledo and, finally, Western Michigan.

When the regular season ended, fans had plenty to celebrate in their 12-0 team.

Seven road wins. A 25-game MAC winning streak. A 26-game Huskie Stadium winning streak. A BCS ranking of 14.

Meanwhile, Lynch set a NCAA record for rushing yards by a quarterback and, one month later, broke it. He not only entered the national Heisman conversation but ascended to No. 2 in the predictions of many sportswriters. On Monday, Dec. 9, Lynch received his invitation to New York City. On Saturday, Dec. 14, the Huskie QB took third place – the best finish by a Mid-American Conference player.

All that stood between Carey’s crew and a second consecutive BCS bowl appearance was the MAC championship. Unfortunately, the Huskies fell 47-27 to Bowling Green.

Redemption awaits tonight at the Poinsettia Bowl: NIU (12-1), ranked No. 23 (USA Today)/No. 24 (Associated Press), will take on Utah State (8-5) of the Mountain West Conference at 8:30 p.m. CT at Qualcomm Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN.

Coach Rod Carey and the Huskies