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Massachusetts-Northern Illinois Preview Capsule

Thursday - 10/31/2013, 1:58pm  ET

The Associated Press

No. 21 Northern Illinois (8-0, 4-0 Mid-American) at Massachusetts (1-7, 1-3)

Line: Northern Illinois by 23 1-2.

Series record: Northern Illinois leads 1-0.

WHAT'S AT STAKE

Northern Illinois is 17th in the BCS rankings and off to its best start since it joined the major college ranks in 1969. The Huskies are looking to go to 9-0 for the first time since the 1965 team won its first nine before losing the Mineral Water Bowl, and they are eyeing their 22nd straight win against a MAC team. They've also won 14 straight road games -- second in the country. Massachusetts is looking for its biggest victory since joining the MAC.

KEY MATCHUP

Northern Illinois' powerful running game against Massachusetts' weak defense. The Huskies are sixth in the nation with 307.5 yards rushing per game with QB Jordan Lynch, with 128.9 yards per game, and Cameron Stingily, with 103.7, leading the way. The Minutemen have allowed 227.1 yards rushing per game and an average gain of 5.5 yards.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Northern Illinois: Lynch threw for four touchdowns, ran for another and added his first career TD reception in last week's 59-20 victory over Eastern Michigan. He is the ninth player in FBS history to run for more than 3,000 and pass for more than 5,000 yards.

Massachusetts: DB Khary Bailey-Smith returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a TD in last Saturday's 31-30 loss to Western Michigan. He also had two interceptions in Massachusetts' only win, 17-10 over Miami (Ohio).

FACTS AND FIGURES

Northern Illinois set a season high for points and racked up 658 yards in last week's win over Eastern Michigan. ... NIU beat UMass 63-0 last year. ... The Huskies' 21-game conference win streak is the longest in the nation. ... Rod Carey, who debuted at the Orange Bowl, is 8-1 as NIU's coach. ... Huskies S Jimmie Ward is a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back. ... Massachusetts is last in the nation in points per game with 10.6, while NIU is 11th with 42. ... Massachusetts QBs A.J. Doyle and Mike Wegzyn have combined for seven TD passes and eight interceptions. ... Rob Blanchflower had seven catches for 131 yards and a touchdown in loss to Western Michigan.


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