There’s not a lot to be impressed about from Northern Illinois except for Jordan Lynch. When he’s stopped, there’s really nothing to see. Utah State put their impressive defensive abilities on show, beating the Huskies 21-14 in the Poinsettia Bowl.
Only two players have managed to rush for over 100 yards this season against the Aggies, but Jordan Lynch wasn’t one of them. The senior, running for over 1800 yards for a second straight season and entered the game with eight games of 100 yards or more on the ground during the season, including two performances of over 300, was simply halted and force to try and win the game with his arm. He did throw for 216 yards and a touchdown pass, but it didn’t come without a cost.
Lynch was swarmed every time and limited to only 39 yards on 18 carries, adding another touchdown on the ground, and safety Brian Suite intercepted a pass off of Lynch and also picked up a fumble by the quarterback, who ended his college career with one of his worst games, as his 2.2 yards per carry were his fewest this season, and his rushing yards and total offensive yards were the 2nd-fewest this season.
Utah State? They didn’t need long drives or something too clever from their quarterback. The Aggies missed out on the MWC title, losing to Fresno State in the conference championship game, but came ready to play and finish the season on a high. Darell Garretson threw for 121 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. That’s usually not something you win with. But when your defense limits the opponent to only 315 total yards of offense (Utah State had 289) and your running back, Joey DeMartino, runs for 143 yards and a touchdown, there really isn’t too much you can ask from your offense.
For DeMartino, it was a special day – his senior game in his home town of San Diego, getting to 1000 yards for the first time in his college career which wasn’t really filled with impressive highlights.
The feeling’s unreal. I couldn’t ask for a better senior game to go out on and to be in front of my hometown, my family, my friends and everyone who supported me out here.
The rest of the attention went to Lynch and Northern Illinois, who lost to Bowling Green in the MAC title game, costing them a chance to play in a second consecutive BCS bowl. Lynch himself was third in the Heisman voting, and made The Associated Press All-America team as an all-purpose player. However, with all of these accolades, the season and his college career ended with a thump thanks to the excellent Utah State run defense.
The only thing we do every week is not stop the run game, but eliminate the run game. But obviously he is a big part of the run game, so we were able to eliminate him, make him one-dimensional and then we were able to actually find a way to run the football, which makes them one-dimensional, and the ballgame is ours.