What: Homecoming 2013
Records: No. 23 Northern Illinois (4-0, 0-0 MAC) vs. Kent State (2-3, 1-1 MAC)
When/Where: Today, 3:30 p.m./Dix Stadium
TV/Radio: TWS, ESPN3/WHLO 640 AM.
Head Coaches: Rod Carey, Northern Illinois (4-1, 1st full year); Paul Haynes, Kent State (2-3, 1st year).
Last Year's Records: Northern Illinois (12-2); Kent State (11-3).
Series: Northern Illinois leads 17-7 and has won six straight, including last year's 44-37 double-overtime victory in the MAC Championship Game.
Latest Line: Northern Illinois by 9.
Scouting Northern Illinois
The Huskies vaulted to No. 23 in the USA Today Coaches Poll after knocking off their second Big Ten foe of the season -- Purdue, coached by last year's Kent State mentor Darrell Hazell, 55-24. They will be the first ranked team to visit Dix Stadium since Bowling Green in 2002. ... Northern Illinois has captured the past two MAC titles, and lost to Florida State in last year's Orange Bowl 31-10. NIU has won 17 consecutive MAC games and 11 straight overall on the road. ... The Huskies are playing as well as ever offensively this season, averaging 43.2 points per game, six yards per rush and 487.5 yards per game. They're led by senior quarterback Jordan Lynch, who finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy race last year after becoming the first player in NCAA FBS history to rush for over 1,500 yards (1,815) and pass for over 3,000 yards (3,138) in a single season. This year, Lynch has rushed for 439 yards (5.7 ypr) and three touchdowns, and passed for 869 yards (64.8 percent completions) and 10 scores with just two interceptions. ... NIU's top weapons include junior wide receiver/returner Tommylee Lewis (7 carries for 124 yards, 26 catches for 239 yards and 2 TDs, 30 yards per kickoff return with 1 TD), junior wide receiver DaRon Brown (23-301, 4 TDs), and 244-pound junior running back Cameron Stingily (61-325, 5.1 ypr, 3 TDs). ... Defensively, the Huskies have surrendered huge numbers (31.2 points, 499.2 yards per game), but they've forced 13 turnovers and dug in when necessary so far in 2013. NIU's top defenders include senior safety Jimmy Ward (39 tackles, 3 INTs), a returning First Team All-MAC performer; junior safety Dechane Durante (3 INTs), sophomore end Perez Ford (5 TFL, 31⁄2 sacks), senior end George Rainey (31⁄2 TFL, 2 sacks).
After playing their last three games on the road, the Flashes return home after snapping a three-game losing streak with a 32-14 win at Western Michigan last week. They've won nine of their last 10 games at Dix Stadium. ... Bolstered by the return of senior speedster Dri Archer and senior guard Pat McShane, Kent State rushed for a season-high 276 yards against the Broncos. Junior running back Trayion Durham led the effort, carrying 26 times for 154 yards and two scores. He leads KSU in rushing with 344 yards on 87 carries (4.0 ypc) with three touchdowns. ... Redshirt freshman quarterback Colin Reardon has completed 85-of-143 passes (59.4 percent) for 824 yards and six touchdowns with two interceptions, and has also rushed for 143 yards (3 ypc) and one score. His favorite targets are junior Chris Humphey (21-267, 2 TDs) and senior Tyshon Goode (21-197). ... KSU is scoring 16.8 points and gaining 310.6 yards per game, while surrendering 28.8 points and 428.4 yards per outing. ... Kent State senior defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix is currently second among active FBS players in career tackles for loss (59), fifth in forced fumbles (10) and 14th in sacks (21.5). ... Behind sophomore Anthony Melchiori, a former Aurora High School star, the Flashes rank 15th in the nation in net punting (41.5 ypp) and lead the MAC in kickoff coverage (19.7 ypr). Melchiori is averaging 44.3 yards per punt with 12 kicks downed inside the 20, and opponents average just 2.6 yards per punt return.