Northern Illinois' Hopes for a Perfect Season Still Alive, Thanks to Jordan Lynch

By Mike Gibson
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Fox television has American Idol and NBC has America’s Got Talent, so what ESPN2 had on Wednesday night could be called its version of America’s Hottest Unheralded Talent.

The “sexiest” star of this show was Jordan Lynch, a quarterback who has been mentioned for the Heisman for the past two seasons.

Lynch led Northern Illinois to a 48-27 win over Ball State that gave the Huskies a clear path to clinching the MAC West Division championship and more importantly a BCS bowl bid. Lynch finished with 468 yards of total offense.

The game also featured two of the hottest coaching commodities at the end of the season in Pete Lembo of Ball State and Rod Carey of Northern Illinois. Both will undoubtedly get offers from higher-profile schools at the end of the season.

That’s because past history dictates that schools with available head coaching jobs often pick a MAC head coach who has done well at those schools. Minnesota struck gold with Jerry Kill of Northern Illinois; Michigan has had some success with Brady Hoke, who once coached at Ball State. Two Central Michigan coaches, Brian Kelly (now at Notre Dame) and Butch Jones (now at Tennessee) helped Cincinnati win four Big East titles in a five-year period before using the Bearcats the way they used the Chippewas. Miami plucked then MAC coach Al Golden from Temple and has been smiling all the way to the bank ever since.

Lembo had a brilliant game plan that handled everything but Lynch’s ability to improvise and adjust. Both he and Carey likely will be gone and, next year, the process will no doubt be repeated again in an important MAC game near the end of the season. In a college football world where the big programs survive by eating the smaller ones, that’s the law of natural selection. While not entirely fair, it does make for compelling mid-week TV.

Mike Gibson, an Associated Press Sports Editors’ Association and Keystone Press Association award-winner for Best Sports Story and Best Sports Feature, is a writer for Follow him on Twitter @papreps , “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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