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Ball State vs. Northern Illinois: Top Offensive Weapons in MAC Showdown

BLOOMINGTON, IN - SEPTEMBER 15: Keith Wenning #10 of the Ball State Cardinals looks to pass the football against the Indiana Hoosiers during the game at Memorial Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Jesse ReedCorrespondent INovember 13, 2013

College football fans are in for a treat when Ball State and No. 15-ranked Northern Illinois hit the field on Wednesday night. The two MAC rivals have just one loss between them, and both are undefeated in the conference, making this an absolutely critical game for both teams.

High-powered offenses are the hallmark for both clubs. 

Northern Illinois features a devastating rushing attack and averages 44.2 points per game, which is the eighth-highest total of any team in the nation. 

Ball State isn't far behind, averaging 39.9 points per game, which ranks No. 15 in the country. Unlike the Huskies, the Cardinals trot out an explosive passing attack, which means fans will be able to enjoy two completely different types of offensive approaches.

With that in mind, here's a look at the top offensive playmakers for both teams. 

 

Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois

Sep 28, 2013; West Lafayette, IN, USA;  Northern Illinois Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch (6) runs for a touchdown against the Purdue Boilermakers at Ross Ade Stadium. Northern Illinois won 55-24. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Lynch is one of the most underrated college football players in America right now. 

Bucky Brooks of NFL.com thinks Lynch should be in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy this year, and it's easy to agree with him after you break down the numbers:

A dual-threat quarterback with exceptional talent running the ball, the senior out of Chicago has totaled 3,021 yards and 31 touchdowns. 

Better still, he's only thrown five interceptions, and his fine play is a huge reason why the Huskies are undefeated heading into this contest. 

 

Keith Wenning, QB, Ball State

Lynch isn't the only hot quarterback in this game, and he's not the only one who's garnering some support as a potential Heisman Trophy contender.

ESPN's Jason Whitlock thinks Wenning should be among the top contenders:

His 3,164 passing yards and 27 touchdowns both rank fourth nationally, behind Johnny Manziel, Derek Carr and Sean Mannion

Ball State runs the ball a fair amount, but the bulk of the production stems from Wenning's strong arm. He spreads the ball around liberally amongst his receivers and running backs, as 13 different players have caught passes this year, but he has a definite favorite whom we'll explore in a moment. 

 

Da'Ron Brown, WR, Northern Illinois

DEKALB, IL - OCTOBER 26: Da'Ron Brown #4 of the Northern Illinois Huskies catches a touchdown pass under pressure from Daquan Pace #33 of the Eastern Michigan Eagles at Brigham Field on October 26, 2013 in DeKalb, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Huskies don't throw the ball nearly as much as the Cardinals. However, when Northern Illinois makes a big play down field in the passing game, more often than not it's Da'Ron Brown catching those passes. 

He's only caught 33 passes this year, but Brown averages 14.5 yards per reception, and he's caught seven touchdown passes, which is four more than any other player on the team.

The junior receiver is having the finest season of his college career, and there's a good chance he'll make a game-breaking play at some point tonight against the Cardinals. 

 

Willie Snead, WR, Ball State

Given the numbers Wenning has put up this year in the passing game, it's no surprise that one of his receivers is amongst the best in the nation. 

As noted by Steve Goldberg of MizzouNetwork.com, Snead ranks No. 3 in the nation, with 74 catches for 1,175 yards and 12 touchdown receptions:

Though not as physically imposing as many of the top receivers around the country, at 5'11" and 193 pounds, Snead features blazing speed and phenomenal hands. 

He's Wenning's go-to receiver in crunch time, and he'll be a huge component to Ball State's offensive attack on Wednesday against the Huskies. 

 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78

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