DeKALB, Ill. — Reeling from a winless streak that has reached nine games in its first season in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the timing was not great for the University of Massachusetts to face the nation’s leading quarterback in total offense.
Northern Illinois junior Jordan Lynch attacked the Minutemen quickly and with a surgeon-like precision Saturday, passing for 191 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for a game-high 157 yards and a TD in a 63-0 victory at Huskie Stadium.
Lynch impressed UMass coach Charley Molnar, a former offensive coordinator at Notre Dame. Lynch led an attack that tore apart the UMass defense for 610 total yards.
“He’s just so hard to tackle,” Molnar said. “Everything you do defensively, you have to defend him every single play. You take your eyes off him, and they’re really good with their deception. You don’t know if he’s got the ball or not.”
Lynch, whose 3,517 yards of total offense rank No. 1 in the NCAA, threw his first touchdown pass with 6 minutes, 29 seconds left in the opening quarter. He led the Huskies (9-1, 6-0 Mid-American Conference) to touchdowns on six consecutive possessions, scoring once himself on a 57-yard run.
On that play, UMass safety Khary Bailey-Smith had both of his hands on Lynch, but Lynch slipped to the outside and took off for the end zone without any further trouble.
“I didn’t have him wrapped up well,” Bailey-Smith said. “He made a nice play and scored. So, I don’t know, we just have to wrap up and get him to the ground.”
In the first half alone, Lynch’s 153 rushing yards nearly equaled UMass’s 168 total yards. And the Minutemen were in a miserable 35-0 hole at halftime, their largest halftime deficit in a season that has included a 63-13 loss at Michigan and last week’s 49-7 loss at Vanderbilt.
Lynch was given the rest of the afternoon off following a 75-yard scoring drive on Northern Illinois’ first possession of the third quarter.
UMass (0-9, 0-5) has not scored in the first half of any of its last three games and has scored just one touchdown in its last 12 quarters, leaving redshirt freshman quarterback Mike Wegzyn puzzled. He completed 16 of 28 passes for 137 yards, but was sacked three times, fumbled once, had four passes dropped, and overthrew another receiver in the end zone.
“It’s definitely frustrating, that’s a good word for it,” said Wegzyn, who was replaced by A.J. Doyle late in the game. “It just falls on our shoulders as an offense . . . I think that falls on my shoulders, personally, more than anyone else’s. I need to produce more in just being the leader of the offense.”
No other team in the MAC has a winless record. But the Minutemen can fix that next week against Akron (1-9, 0-6), one of three MAC teams still winless in league play.
But in order to defeat even Akron, the Minutemen will have to find some emotional fire that did not exist Saturday. Molnar was not happy about that.
“Today I was little bit disappointed. I don’t think every guy played to the end of the game,” Molnar said. “I think some of the guys started to think about the trip home and getting out of DeKalb and not finishing out the afternoon the way I’d like to see it get done.”