They call them BCS busters, but Northern Illinois still doesn’t feel to welcomed by the national media to the Orange Bowl after a remarkable season in the MAC. Florida State keep thinking about what could have been if it wasn’t for that loss, but eventually had to settle for the ACC title, which is more than they’ve achieved in previous seasons.
The big story, and the team with nothing to lose, are the Northern Illinois Huskies. They’ve already lost their head coach, taking the North Carolina State job (the team that gave Florida State one of its two losses this season) right after winning the MAC championship game. They’ve won 21 of their last 22 games, Northern Illinois are the first MAC school to reach a BCS game, which surprisingly goes 5-2 in the favor of non-AQ teams in the case of BCS busters.
The big star of this team is Jordan Lynch. The Junior quarterback has thrown for 2962 yards this season and has rushed for 1771, scoring 19 touchdowns. That, and his 11 consecutive games of at least 100 yards are single season records for a quarterback in the FBS. NIU are ninth in the nation with 250.2 rushing yards per game and 8th with 40.8 points per game. However, they haven’t beaten a ranked team this season, with their only win against a team from a “major” conference came against Kansas. Their loss was on opening day to Iowa.
Florida State have a less electric offense, but they are second in the nation when it comes to defense, allowing only 253.4 total yards per game, giving up only 15.1 points per game. Still, the departure of Mark Stoops, the defensive coordinator, has people worried. Stoops took the vacant Kentucky job, while also signals from the disappointing performance in the ACC title game (21-15 vs GT) do have people wondering how good Florida State, or how motivated, will be in the Orange Bowl.
Still, for a school that hasn’t seen a BCS Bowl since 2005, nothing should get in the way of a proper preperation for the game, especially with players like EJ Manuel, their senior quarterback, know it is their last chance to win something meaningful before their College career is over.
Predictions – As much as it would be a huge story to see Jordan Lynch carry Northern Illinois to one of the biggest upsets in Bowl Game history, Florida State’s defense, with Stoops or without him, should be too good for the Huskies to take advantage of. On offense, despite all the clunks and cringes, the Seminoles should do just about enough to win the game.