Jordan Lynch and Northern Illinois won a MAC title game that lived up to the hype.
Now the Huskies are lobbying for a chance to play on an even bigger stage.
“I hope we get into a BCS game,” Lynch said. “We showed the country what we can do tonight, and we play our best game every week.”
Lynch ran for three touchdowns, including a 2-yarder in the second overtime, and Demetrius Stone’s interception in the end zone gave No. 19 Northern Illinois a 44-37 victory over No. 18 Kent State in a stirring Mid-American Conference championship game Friday night in Detroit.
Both teams were hoping a win would boost them into the top 16 of the BCS rankings and give them a berth in one of college football’s marquee bowls. Kent State was No. 17 in those standings coming in. The Huskies were No. 21 and need an unlikely jump.
Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren is still holding out hope.
“You look at the top 16 teams in the BCS, and you aren’t going to find a team that plays as consistently as we do, wins every game they are supposed to win, and plays as well as we do in every phase of the game,” Doeren said.
The Huskies (12-1) dominated for much of the night, but the Golden Flashes (11-2) tied it at 34 in the final minute of regulation.
Kent State trailed 27-13 in the fourth before scoring twice in a 15-second span.
It was 34-all at the end of regulation, and after the teams traded field goals in the first overtime, Northern Illinois needed only two plays to reach the end zone. A 23-yard run by Akeem Daniels set up Lynch’s final TD.
Kent State subsequently reached the 9, but on fourth down, Spencer Keith had to scramble to his right and throw a desperation pass that was picked off by Stone in the end zone.
Northern Illinois won its second straight MAC title, the first team to do that since Central Michigan in 2006-07.
JUDGE CLEARS COACH
Minnesota State-Mankato football coach Todd Hoffner, sidelined by accusations of child pornography involving his own children, said he was “thankful to be waking up from this nightmare,” after Blue Earth County (Minn.) District Judge Krista Jass dismissed the case.
Hoffner was effectively cleared when Jass agreed with his assertion that innocent family videos of his naked children after a bubble bath had been misinterpreted. He had been escorted off a football practice field and arrested in August after a university employee came across cellphone videos of his children dancing and playing naked.
Hoffner said he wanted to return to work as soon as possible. The university said he will remain on administrative leave until its own investigation is complete.
Former University of Washington assistant coach Trent Miles is leaving Indiana State to replace retiring Bill Curry as Georgia State’s coach. Miles was running backs coach under Tyrone Willingham. … San Jose State accepted an invitation the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 at RFK Stadium in Washington against a team from the Mid-American Conference. … Dean Brown, a starting offensive tackle on Notre Dame’s 1988 national championship team, has died in Cleveland of a blood clot in his lungs. He was 44. … Jacksonville State released coach Jack Crowe, who went 87-57 in his 13 seasons, with two years remaining in his contract.