TOLEDO - Somehow, it seems to always comes down to this game.
Toledo vs. Northern Illinois. For the MAC West Division title. The Rockets and the Huskies square off in DeKalb on Wednesday, Nov. 14 (9:00 p.m. ET/ESPN2).
If it sounds familiar, it is. This is the third consecutive season the two schools have played late-season games that determine the MAC West title. NIU came away victorious in the last two, a 65-30 triumph in DeKalb in 2010 and a wild 63-60 win in Toledo last year.
Toledo is 8-2, 5-1 in MAC play following a 34-27 loss to Ball State on Nov. 6. Despite that defeat, the Rockets still control their own destiny. Victories over NIU and Akron on Nov. 20 will put Toledo into the MAC Championship Game for the first time since 2004. Northern Illinois can clinch its third consecutive trip to Ford Field with a win over UT.
The Rockets fell to Ball State despite another superb performance by junior RB David Fluellen. Fluellen gained 200 yards on 34 carries, his sixth-straight 100-yard game, three of which have been over 200 yards.
Northern Illinois (9-1, 6-0 MAC) is in first place in the West Division and has won nine consecutive games. The Huskies' only loss was an 18-17 defeat to Iowa at Soldier Field in the season opener. NIU is led by junior Jordan Lynch, a dual-threat QB who is second in the MAC with 1,342 yards rushing and is tops in passing efficiency (155.6).
Back Story on the Northern Illinois Game
- This will be the 40th meeting between the two schools, with Toledo holding a 29-10 edge. The Huskies have won the last two, including last year's head-spinning 63-60 affair in Toledo.
- Toledo is in the Top 25 for the first time in over a decade. Toledo ranks No. 23 in the most recent Associated Press poll, No. 25 in the USA Today coaches poll and No. 25 in the BCS rankings. It is the first-ever appearance for UT in the BCS Top-25.
- The Rockets were last ranked in the Top 25 in the final 2001 AP and USA Today coaches polls. Toledo ended the season 10-2 ranked No. 23 by the AP and No. 22 by the coaches.
- Toledo's loss to Ball State snapped an eight-game winning streak.
- Toledo is 19-3 in its last 22 Mid-American Conference games, with two of those losses coming to Northern Illinois.
- Junior RB David Fluellen leads the nation in rushing with 1,381 yards.
- Senior LB Dan Molls' 132 tackles also leads the nation.