The victory marked the second straight season the Broncos had won an in-season tournament, and David Brown was crowned Tournament MVP after averaging The team finished the non-conference slate with a record and opened MAC play at before ripping off a winning streak that endured through the entire month of February; the Broncos won eight straight games from Feb.
The postseason began with a spirited come-from-behind victory, as the Broncos erased a point halftime deficit to force overtime against the Akron Zips in the semifinal round of the MAC Tournament. Brown provided the late-game heroics with a banked-in three-pointer in overtime to put the Broncos ahead, and WMU defeated Akron to advance to the championship game. The Broncos proceeded to dismantle the Toledo Rockets in a clash of No. Unsurprisingly, the Broncos were showered with accolades by the Conference, with Brown and Shayne Whittington each earning First Team All-MAC honors; it was the first time that a Bronco had made the First Team since , and the first time that two Broncos earned nods to the top tier since the season.
The Broncos returned to their rightful spot atop the MAC West division standings in , posting the third-highest single-season wins total in program history with a mark and a MAC West-best record in conference play. Playing with a squad of eight freshmen and a number of familiar faces cast into new starting roles, the Broncos started out the season hot, winning the USF Invitational with a clean sweep of Loyola-Chicago, Maryland-Eastern Shore, and the hosting Bulls, marking the first in-season tournament win the team had enjoyed since the season.
The season carried on, however, as the Broncos earned a spot in the CBI, earning a pair of exciting wins to open the tournament and advance to its Final Four. Postseason play returned to University Arena for the first time since when the Broncos defeated North Dakota State, overcoming the Bison in overtime for a win.
Shayne Whittington earned his first career All-MAC honors, making it on to the Second Team, while senior Nate Hutcheson was named All-MAC honorable mention in a season in which he reached 1, career points and set a program record for games played. The season saw the Broncos overcome tremendous adversity both on and off the court, jelling at the right time and gaining momentum during a MAC Tournament run to the quarterfinals.
Forced to endure a number of injuries that sidelined key players for weeks at a time, as well as a brutal non-conference schedule that ranked as the 12th-toughest in the nation and saw road trips to Purdue, Duke, and Gonzaga, the Broncos clawed their way to a respectable finish and the right to host a home game in the First Energy MAC Tournament.
They won their first two games of the bracket before eventually falling in the quarterfinal round.
University of Massachusetts Athletics
The season was viewed by some as a transition year for the Broncos, but instead the team rose to the occasion and captured its fifth MAC West title under Hawkins, posting an record in conference play. The Broncos returned to postseason play and hosted a postseason tournament game for the first time since , defeating Tennessee Tech in the first round of the CollegeInsider. Only one other MAC school has had one such athlete during the last seven seasons. The season saw Western Michigan live up to preseason expectations as they claimed the MAC West title for the fourth time in school history and reached 20 wins for the fourth time in six seasons.
The Broncos were strong defensively as they led the MAC and ranked 37th in the country out of in field goal percentage defense. Reitz was also named to the CollegeInsider. Western Michigan posted a pair of premier wins during the season as they knocked off NCAA Elite Eight participant Davidson, , and perennial mid-major power Southern Illinois, Davidson was ranked No.
The Broncos also ended a pair of streaks by winning at Detroit, , for the first time since and winning at Toledo, , for the first win there since Hawkins also was recognized in for his sense of style on the sidelines. He advanced to the final 16 of CollegeInsider. Hawkins made another style run in to the Sensational 16, including a win over John Calipari of Kentucky. The Broncos faced their most ambitious schedule yet during the campaign. Going into conference play, the Broncos had the fourth toughest strength of schedule in the country CollegeRPI.
The pre-game buildup focused primarily on the two high-powered offenses, both of which were led by strong rushing attacks. The rushing attacks differed; Northern Illinois' was led by junior quarterback Jordan Lynch , who finished fourth in the nation in rushing, while Kent State's was led by a running back tandem consisting of Dri Archer and Trayion Durham.
The opening line favored Northern Illinois by seven points. The Huskies were subsequently invited to the Orange Bowl. Kent State had entered the weekend of November 24 ranked 23rd in the BCS standings, but after every team ranked between 15 and 21 lost that day, the Golden Flashes rose to 17th in the November 25 rankings, with Northern Illinois rising to 21st.
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Kent State settled for the GoDaddy. Northern Illinois finished tenth in the nation in total offense, finishing the season with 6, total yards. Their leading wide receiver was a freshman, Josh Boyle. Despite a lackluster performance throughout the season in terms of total defense where they finished 74th  and scoring defense where they finished 44th ,  they did create the second-most turnovers in the country with 38 which trailed only Oregon.
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During the season, he totaled 6 sacks as well as 15 tackles for loss. Northern Illinois got the ball to start the game and, after three plays totaling three yards, were forced to punt, going three-and-out. Kent State's first drive also resulted in a three-and-out. The Huskies took over at their own 14 on the ensuing drive and managed to achieve one first down prior to having to punt. The first scoring drive occurred for the Golden Flashes on their second drive, but they were aided by Huskies' punt returner Angelo Sebastiano fumbling a Kent State punt.
They took advantage of the mistake and ultimately scored on a yard touchdown run by Dri Archer.
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After the Huskies failed to score on their next drive, Kent State capitalized again on a yard field goal by Freddy Cortez. The final drive of the first quarter lasted 14 plays for 65 yards and ended in a Mathew Sims yard field goal. Kent State went three-and-out on their first drive of the second quarter. Northern Illinois' ensuing drive capitalized on their strong field position their own yard line by executing a 6-play, yard drive that culminated in a yard pass from Jordan Lynch to Martel Moore that tied the game at Kent State committed another miscue on their next drive, throwing an interception to Dechane Durante.
Northern Illinois again capitalized, this time with a play, yard drive culminating with a 1-yard rush by Akeem Daniels. That drive would be the final scoring drive of the half, at which the score was Northern Illinois Huskies 17, Kent State Golden Flashes Since NIU got the ball to start the game, Kent State got it to start the second half and got the ball at their own 47 after a yard return by Josh Boyle. Kent State got the ball into the red zone , but ultimately settled for a field goal which cut NIU's lead to 4 points. Northern Illinois' prolific offense continued their scoring by executing a play, yard drive highlighted by a yard run by Lynch on a 4th and 1.
Lynch would run it into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown three plays later. After the Golden Flashes went three-and-out, the Huskies scored, this time via a yard field goal by Sims. After Kent State turned the ball over on downs, Northern Illinois, for the first time in the second half, did not score and punted the ball away. Kent State began a comeback on their ensuing drive via a 5-yard touchdown drive Spencer Keith, making the score Northern Illinois' next drive lasted only one play, a fumble by Jordan Lynch that was returned by Kent State defender Zack Hitchens for a touchdown.
After Cortez made the extra point, the game was tied at The Huskies got back on track by scoring a touchdown, a 9-yard run by Lynch, but the Golden Flashes responded with one of their own, a yard pass from Keith to Tim Erjavec. At the end of regulation, the score was tied at Per NCAA overtime rules, each team got the ball at their own yard line for one drive. In the first overtime period, Kent State got the ball down to the NIU 5 before kicking a yard field goal.
Northern Illinois responded with a field goal of their own, a yarder by Sims. After the first overtime, the score was tied at NIU got the ball to start the second overtime, and took only two plays to score a touchdown: a yard run by Akeem Daniels followed by a 2-yard run by Lynch, his third touchdown of the game. Kent State then had to score a touchdown in order to force the game to a third overtime. They were unsuccessful in doing so, however, as on 4th and 8, Keith threw an interception, thus ending the game with the Northern Illinois Huskies victorious by a score of Ridenour, Marla November 17, Akron Beacon Journal.
Retrieved Mitchell, Fred 30 November The Chicago Tribune.