NCF Nation: Martel Moore

Northern Illinois season preview

August, 16, 2013
Today we're looking at Northern Illinois, which is coming off a dream season that ended in the Discover Orange Bowl.

Northern Illinois Huskies

Coach: Rod Carey (0-1 overall)

2012 record: 12-2 (8-0 MAC)

Key losses: WR Martel Moore, WR Perez Ashford, DE Alan Baxter, DE Sean Progar, LB Tyrone Clark, LB Victor Jacques, CB Rashaan Melvin, CB Demetrius Stone

[+] EnlargeNorthern Illinois' Jordan Lynch
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsQuarterback Jordan Lynch and the Huskies enter the 2013 season aiming to defend their MAC title and earn another BCS bowl bid.
Key returnees: QB Jordan Lynch, RB Akeem Daniels, LT Tyler Loos, C Andrew Ness, RG Jared Volk, DT Ken Bishop, LB Jamaal Bass, SS Jimmie Ward

Newcomer to watch: WR Malik Mitchell. Mitchell was an ESPN three-star prospect from Milton (Ga.) High, where he hauled in 40 receptions last season for 500 yards and four touchdowns. Mitchell chose the Huskies over fellow MAC schools Toledo and Western Michigan. NIU loses two of its starting wide receivers from last season, and though it still brings back plenty of capable bodies from last year's unit, the 6-foot-4, 181-pound Mitchell is capable of potentially earning his way onto the field, where he will clearly be playing with a strong quarterback.

Biggest games in 2013: Aug. 31 at Iowa, Sept. 28 at Purdue, Oct. 5 at Kent State, Oct. 19 at Central Michigan, Nov. 13 vs. Ball State, Nov. 20 at Toledo

Biggest question mark heading into 2013: The biggest question mark facing NIU in 2013 is, simply, the Huskies' defense. NIU loses seven starters from last year's underrated unit, which was overshadowed by Lynch and the often-electrifying offense while allowing just 19.9 points per game -- good for second in the MAC and 21st nationally. The Huskies need to replace three starters up front, three of their linebackers and two starters from their secondary, including three of their top four sack leaders from 2012.

Forecast: NIU did things last year that few believed were possible for a MAC team. The Huskies finished 12-2 and proved to be one of the final BCS-busters of the BCS era, but their 31-10 loss to Florida State in the Discover Orange Bowl sent them into the offseason hungry for more.

Oh, and that defeat also left Carey with a less-than-ideal 0-1 career coaching mark, something he has joked about publicly this offseason.

Still, Carey brings back enough talent to field a team that enters 2013 as the preseason MAC favorite, as NIU is 23-5 over the past two seasons.

Perhaps most importantly, the team brings back Jordan Lynch, who finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting last year before a less-than-stellar showing against the Seminoles (15-41 passing, 220 total yards) ended his season on a down note. The 6-foot, 216-pound Lynch enters his redshirt senior season as a player the Huskies have promoted for this year's Heisman, and after he rushed for 1,815 yards and passed for 3,138 last season -- while tallying 44 total touchdowns -- why shouldn't they?

What's more, the same men return who helped protect him up front last season, along with a deep receiving corps that features five players who caught at least 11 passes last season. The conference's top offense from 2012 should not miss a beat in 2013.

The challenges will come on defense, where the Huskies return just four starters from last year's unit. Still, Carey has said he is confident in a lot of the first-team newcomers, several of whom have seen extensive playing time despite not starting.

Can NIU mount a repeat of last year's run and crash the BCS once again, in the system's final season? Due to outside factors, that might be asking a lot for a second straight season. (Welcome back off the bowl ban list, Ohio State. ... Good to see you again, Big 12 heavyweights.)

Still, the Huskies boast all of the necessary parts to help Carey build up that record and end his first full year with another conference title for the program.

Video: Northern Illinois WR Martel Moore

December, 30, 2012

Northern Illinois wide receiver Martel Moore talks about the week in Miami and preparing for Florida State.

Instant analysis: NIU 38, ASU 20

January, 9, 2012
After blowing out to a 13-0 lead, Arkansas State couldn’t find a rhythm on offense with wide receiver Dwayne Frampton missing the bulk of the game with an injury. NIU, however, lost star quarterback Chandler Harnish briefly, but was able to still find the end zone and Harnish would return. Here’s how it all went down in Mobile, Ala.

How the game was won: Five Arkansas State turnovers doomed the Red Wolves, who couldn’t find a way to consistently generate any offensive production after the first quarter. NIU’s defense did a great job disrupting ASU quarterback Ryan Aplin, who threw three interceptions and couldn’t get in sync with his offense without Frampton.

Turning point: NIU running back Jamal Womble, all 5-11, 247-pounds of him, barreled into the end zone as time expired in the first half to give the Huskies a 21-13 lead at the break. And it came on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Gutsy call after Arkansas State gave the ball to the Huskies on a muffed punt, then a roughing the punter call kept the drive alive to set up the score.

Star of the game: Spectacular night for NIU wide receiver Martel Moore, who caught eight balls for 225 yards – a whopping 28.1 yards per catch average – and a touchdown.

Play of the game: Taylor Stockemer’s leaping, one-handed 16-yard touchdown reception on fourth-and-four was just fantastic. Aplin heaved up it up with 11:12 left in the game, which cut NIU’s lead to 31-20. It made the fourth quarter a little more interesting, at least until Dechane Durante’s 36-yard pick-six with 8:20 left in the game to put NIU ahead 38-20.

Unsung hero: How about NIU backup quarterback Jordan Lynch filling in on the spot for Harnish in the second quarter? The backup QB goes 4-for-4 and engineers a seven-play, 78-yard touchdown drive that ended with him finding the end zone on an athletic 3-yard run. The score kept NIU's momentum going in Harnish's absence and put the Huskies ahead 14-13.

Stat of the game: 24 points off of five turnovers for the Huskies.

Record performance: For the 19 NIU seniors, it's their 35th win -- the most of any class in school history. The 11 wins this season matches the school record of 11 wins set last season.