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MAC Championship Game: Ohio and Northern Illinois Look for Redemption

It’s rather fitting that Ohio University and Northern Illinois are playing in the 2011 Mid-American Conference Championship Game both have played for the MAC championship the last two years and both lost: Ohio to Central Michigan in 2009 and Northern Illinois to Miami (Ohio) last year. The Huskies are 4-point favorites on Bodog’s NCAA football odds for the first conference championship game of the weekend – this one is held at Detroit’s Ford Field.
 
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Northern Illinois (9-3, 7-1 MAC), under first-year head coach Dave Doeren, clinched its second straight MAC West Division title with an 18-12 win over Eastern Michigan last Friday. The offensive star was QB Chandler Harnish, the MAC Player of the Year. He rushed for 148 yards, including a 68-yard TD and passed for 98 more and a score as NIU won its seventh straight game. It was Harnish’s fourth straight 100-yard rushing game and sixth of the year. He has thrown for 2,692 yards and rushed for 1,351 this year. No player in college football history has thrown for 3,000 and rushed for 1,500 in a season but Harnish may well do it.
 
Ohio (9-3, 6-2) beat Miami (Ohio) 21-14 back on Nov. 22 for its fifth win in a row and to wrap up the MAC East. QB Tyler Tettleton was 18 of 26 for 203 yards and three TDs and rushed for 11 yards on 12 carries as the Bobcats finished with nine wins for the sixth time in school history. Tettleton, the son of former MLB player Mickey Tettleton, has a very good first season as the starter with 26 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions.
 
The Bobcats were second in the MAC in allowing just 22.0 ppg this season, while NIU was 10th in allowing 32.0 ppg. But the Huskies were No. 2 in the conference in scoring at 39.6, while the Bobcats were No. 4 at 31.9. NIU and Ohio have met just three times since 1999, with the last a 38-31 Bobcats win in 2009. Neither team is very good in neutral-site games. Ohio is 1-4 ATS in its past five in those, while NIU is 1-7 in its last eight.
 
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