"It's flattering," said NIU head coach Rod Carey. "It's not something you pay attention to, but I know why they do it. It goes along with everything else. Expectations are high, but no one has higher expectations for us than us."
NIU, which was also selected to win the 2013 Marathon MAC Football Championship, received 16 first-place votes for 138 points. It is the first time since 2010 that the Huskies have been picked as the preseason favorites in the league. Northern Illinois was predicted to finish second in the MAC Preseason Media Poll in each of the last two years.
Northern Illinois returns 54 letterwinners and 16 starters from last season's MAC championship team including Heisman Trophy candidate Jordan Lynch. The Huskies posted their third straight double-digit win total with a 12-2 record and 8-0 mark in league play in 2012.
The Huskies finished ahead of second-place Toledo, which received five first-place votes for 122 points. Ball State was picked to finish third in the division, garnering three first-place votes and 108 points, while Central Michigan, which was picked to finish fourth, also earned a first-place vote. Western Michigan was selected fifth, while Eastern Michigan rounds out the division's preseason standings.
Ohio received 15 first-place votes for 164 points as the Bobcats were picked to win the MAC East Division. Bowling Green, Kent State and Buffalo also received first-place votes and were selected second, third and fourth in the East respectively. Miami was selected to finish fifth, Akron sixth and UMass was picked to finish seventh.
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