YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — So much for catching the Mid-American Conference West division champions napping.
Jordan Lynch ran for 107 yards and Akeem Daniels scored a career-best four touchdowns as No. 24 Northern Illinois beat Eastern Michigan 49-7 on a cold, snowy Friday.
The Huskies head to the MAC title game, which they had already locked up a spot in, with 11 straight victories.
Daniels scored on runs of 25 and 20 yards in the first half and finished with a career-high 112 yards on 12 carries to help the Huskies (11-1, 8-0) cap a perfect run through the MAC. He added touchdowns carries from 19 and 16 yards out in the second half.
“It was like ice water out there,” the Florida native said after his first game in snow. “My hands were kind of frozen but I didn’t mind.
“The offensive line did a nice job opening holes.”
Lynch, a week removed from a 407-yard passing performance, was 16 for 25 for 168 yards but extended his FBS record streak of 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback. He had 20 carries to crack the century mark for the 10th straight game and bolster his dark horse Heisman Trophy campaign.
“We were really happy,” coach Dave Doeren said. “We were great at tailback and didn’t allow any sacks today.
“We had to be pretty conservative with our passing game.”
The West division winners will go for a second straight conference title when they face No. 23 Kent State in next week’s championship game. The Huskies have defeated 16 straight MAC opponents and won 11 regular-season games for the first time in school history.
Eastern Michigan (2-10, 1-7) tied the game 7-7 late in the first quarter but Northern Illinois needed just 15 seconds to retake the lead.
Tommylee Lewis returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards to score the first of three straight touchdowns that gave the Huskies a 28-7 lead at intermission.
The return touchdown, the third of his career, set a new school record.
It was 38 degrees and windy at kickoff and snow flurries covered the artificial surface early in the second quarter. The Huskies mostly kept the ball on the ground after that but got a 43-yard touchdown pass from Lynch to Martel Moore in the final minute of the half.
Sean Evans intercepted Eagles quarterback Tyler Benz early in the fourth quarter to set up Daniels’ final touchdown run and Jacob Brinlee added an 11-yard scoring run in the final minutes of the game.
Moore had nine catches for 116 yards to become the first Huskies receiver with 1,000 yards in a season since 2005.
The Huskies allowed only 94 rushing yards and 227 total.
“I read a story saying teams that run spread offenses don’t have very good defenses,” Doeren said. “I wish they would’ve called me for that story. We’ve been a very good defensive team this year.”
EMU, which hosted a ranked opponent for the first time in school history, fell to 0-7 all-time against Top-25 teams.
Benz was 10 for 22 for 96 yards and hit Matt Boyd with a 20-yard strike for the Eagles’ only touchdown. The Huskies sacked him three times.
The snow stopped at halftime but persistent, chilly winds shooed most of the crowd by the start of the fourth quarter. Northern Illinois will find the conditions much better next week when it plays for the conference title in climate-controlled Ford Field in Detroit.
“We can’t wait. We’re excited,” said Lynch, who has 4,381 total yards.
“We love the spotlight and the game is going to give us a chance to show what we can do.”
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