DEKALB, Ill. | With 1991 Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard and a national TV audience watching, Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch showed why he is a candidate for the coveted award.
Both he and Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning put on a show before over 18,000 at Huskie Stadium Wednesday.
Lynch led a pivotal seven-play, 94-yard touchdown drive to put the Huskies ahead 34-27 with 5:49 left in the battle for Mid-American West supremacy, and Northern Illinois went on to beat Ball State 48-27.
Lynch hit Da'Ron Brown in stride for a 36-yard go-ahead score. It was the second time the duo hooked up for a touchdown. On the drive, Lynch had a 24-yard run and hit Tommylee Lewis for a 25-yard completion.
He scored on a 16-yard run with 1:26 left to ice the game. NIU's Joe Windsor returned a Wenning interception for the final score.
NIU coach Rod Carey made a strong case for Jordan to win the Heisman.
“I don't know if Jordan isn't in the conversation for the Heisman, then I don't know what people were watching,” Carey said. “They obviously are asleep.
In my estimation, that trophy goes to the top player in the nation. And with the performance he had tonight, he is a candidate.”
Lynch was 26-of-32 passing for 345 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 123 yards and two scores.
“You win the Heisman by winning games and it is a team effort,” Lynch said. “I can't win games by myself. It takes the whole team."
It was the defense that came up big with Ball State driving and on a fourth-and-1 at the Huskies' 44, Ball State's Jahwan Edwards was stopped for a 1-yard loss and NIU took over with 3:43 left.
Cardinals quarterback Ketih Wenning had a good night himself. He was 35-of-49 passing for 324 yards, one touchdown and one interception. NIU held the Cardinals to three second-half points and Ball State coach Pete Lembo lamented his team's inability to convert.
"That was the difference," Lembo said. "They have a great defense, but in the end, you have to convert on third downs and we didn't in the second half."
Ball State (9-2, 6-1) saw its 11-game MAC winning streak end. Northern Illinois (10-0, 6-0), one of six FBS undefeated teams remaining, is in the driver's seat to play in the MAC Championship Game on Dec. 6 in Detroit. The Huskies play at Toledo, then host Western Michigan on Nov. 26. The win was its 25th straight at Huskie Stadium and kept NIU in possession of “The Bronze Stalk Trophy.”