TOLEDO, Ohio -- Northern Illinois booked a trip to Detroit, quarterback Jordan Lynch moved closer to a possible trip to New York, and the Huskies stayed in contention for a second straight BCS bowl bid.
All in a night's work for the 16th-ranked Huskies.
Northern Illinois advanced to its fourth consecutive Mid-American Conference championship game in Detroit after Lynch scored three second-half rushing touchdowns in a 35-17 win over Toledo on Wednesday night at the Glass Bowl.
The Huskies (11-0, 7-0) captured the MAC West Division title for the fourth year in a row. The MAC championship game is set for Dec. 6 at Ford Field. Northern Illinois, which won the past two MAC championships, relied on another big game by its senior quarterback.
Lynch is gaining momentum for a possible invitation to the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York after shredding the Rockets for 202 yards passing and 161 yards rushing. He completed 17 of 22 passes, and he ran the ball 28 times.
For the second consecutive week, the Huskies relied on a big second half to turn a close game into a blowout. The Huskies outscored Ball State 28-3 in the second half in a 48-27 victory on Nov. 13. Trailing 10-7 at halftime against Toledo, the Huskies outscored the Rockets 28-7 in the second half, including scoring 21 unanswered points.
The decision run came after Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens' 36-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Bernard Reedy gave the Rockets a 17-14 lead at the 8:34 mark of the third quarter.
The Rockets (7-4, 5-2) had their five-game winning streak snapped. They committed three first-half turnovers and finishing with four turnovers.
Owes went 17-for-29 for 235 yards, with wide receiver Alonzo Russell making five catches for 100 yards. Toledo running back Kareem Hunt gained 91 yards on 19 carries.
Northern Illinois wide receiver Juwan Brescacin had eight receptions for 121 yards.
The Huskies' offense suffered a major blow when wide receiver Da'Ron Brown, who caught two touchdown passes against Ball State, left the game in the first quarter with an injury. The Huskies already were without leading receiver Tommylee Lewis, who sat out the game with an undisclosed injury.
The Rockets couldn't take advantage of the Huskies' stagnant offense in the first half. Toledo turned the ball over three times in the first two quarters. Owens lost a fumble on the first play from scrimmage. Three plays later, James Spencer, a seldom-used reserve with just 18 carries for 101 yards in NIU's first 10 games, broke free for an 18-yard touchdown run.
Owens' troubles continued on his next pass attempt, which was picked off by senior safety Jimmie Ward (his sixth of the season). After a 36-yard field goal by Jeremiah Detmer sliced the deficit to 7-3, the Rockets missed another scoring chance when Owens' pass was picked off by sophomore linebacker Boomer Mays in the end zone.
After Northern Illinois senior kicker Mathew Sims missed field goal, Owens tossed a 45-yard touchdown pass to Russell for a 10-7 lead with 51 seconds left in the first half.
Sims closed out the half by missing his third field-goal attempt.
NOTES: The teams' last meeting at Toledo was one of the most memorable games in the series. Toledo WR Eric Page scored five touchdowns and NIU's Tommylee Lewis returned two kickoffs for touchdowns as the Huskies pulled out a 63-60 victory. ... Toledo RB David Fluellen started Wednesday after sitting out the previous two games with a lower left leg injury. Fluellen rushed for 1,067 yards in the first eight games. ... The Huskies trailed in 10 of their 11 games, including 10-7 at halftime Wednesday.