Florida State 31, NIU 10
2012-2013 CFN Bowl Central
(AP) MIAMI -- Northern Illinois started the night as a BCS-buster.
relative to each
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
The Huskies went home a BCS bust.
A dismal first half put Northern Illinois in a hole, and two second-half turnovers proved costly as Florida State topped the Huskies 31-10 in the Discover Orange Bowl on Tuesday night -- hardly the ending that the Mid-American Conference champions were seeking in their first trip to the Bowl Championship Series.
The final numbers were far from pretty for the Huskies (12-2), whose 12-game winning streak was snapped after they were outgained 534-259. They converted five of their 18 third-down opportunities and were on the wrong end of a 23-17 disparity in first downs.
And standout quarterback Jordan Lynch, who finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy balloting, struggled for long stretches. His streak of 11 consecutive 100-yard rushing games ended, after he managed only 44 yards on 23 carries. He completed 15 of 41 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown -- one that got the Huskies within 17-10 early in the third quarter.
It was the last Huskie hurrah.
After a successfully executed onside kick, Lynch had Northern Illinois headed toward the end zone on the ensuing possession. But Lynch tried forcing a pass down the right sideline and was intercepted by Terrence Brooks inside the Seminoles' 20 to thwart that drive. And after Da'Ron Brown fumbled the ball away early in the fourth, Lonnie Pryor had his second long touchdown run of the game to all but seal the win for Florida State (12-2).
EJ Manuel completed 26 of 38 passes for 291 yards in his farewell for Florida State, which won 12 games for the first time since the Seminoles' unbeaten 1999 season. Pryor ran for 130 yards on only four carries -- with touchdown runs of 60 and 37 yards, both of which were longer than any carry Northern Illinois yielded all season.
The Huskies ran 73 plays, and Lynch either threw a pass or carried the ball on 64 of them. But after coming into the Orange Bowl with an average of just over 367 yards of total offense per game, Lynch just kept getting hit -- and hit -- by a defensive front that enjoyed a massive size advantage over the MAC champions.
So let the second-guessing begin over whether or not Northern Illinois belonged in the BCS. On the night they were announced as being Orange Bowl-bound last month, and upon hearing the reaction of some commentators who called their qualification for one of college football's big-money games as a joke, several Huskies reacted by tossing oranges at the television.
Those they-didn't-belong opinions won't change much now.
The outcome became academic with 4:47 left, when on fourth-and-13 Lynch dropped back and tried to run away from a Florida State blitz. He didn't have a chance, as linebacker Nick Moody ran him down for ease and recorded a sack.
By then, the Seminole sideline was already celebrating. Lynch simply got up and trotted to the Northern Illinois side, where several players stood in silence, some with hands on their hips, as the stadium continued emptying out and even the most ardent fans who endured a 30-hour bus trip from Illinois to watch the game watched in disbelief.
On a cold night in DeKalb, Ill. -- 9 degrees at kickoff -- the Huskies faced a cold reality in Miami.
Northern Illinois had some moments. Lynch completed a 55-yard pass to Akeem Daniels on the drive that he capped with an 11-yard toss to Martel Moore with 9:55 left in the third, a score that got the Huskies within seven.
And a 35-yard run by Desroy Maxwell in the first quarter set up a field goal.
Thing is, highlights like that were too few and far between for the Huskies.
Lynch eclipsed the 3,000-yard passing mark for the season in the second quarter, making him the first player in NCAA history to throw for that many yards and rush for at least 1,500 more in the same campaign.
It was about the only highlight for Lynch in the opening 30 minutes.
The Huskies ran 30 plays in the first half, and Lynch had the ball for 28 of them -- 15 passes, 12 rushes, one kneel-down to end the half, and extremely little success. Lynch was 4 for 15 passing for 52 yards, and had 24 rushing yards on 12 carries when the game went to the intermission.
The second half was better. Just not good enough.
Northern Illinois (12-1) vs. Florida State (11-2) Jan. 1, 8:30, ESPN
Here’s The Deal … Come on – of course you want to see what’s going to happen.
The problem with Northern Illinois being in a BCS game isn’t Northern Illinois in a BCS game – it’s not like you were going to care about this if it was Louisville-Florida State – it’s that this came from out of the blue.
There was a buzz about 2007 Hawaii from the start of the season as it went 12-0 before getting obliterated by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. TCU had been hanging around the BCS mix for years before getting the nod in 2009 and 2010, and Boise State and Utah were each flirting with bids before finally getting in. The talk before the MAC championship game was about Kent State getting into the BCS, and then the Huskies came from out of the blue to get the automatic bid by finishing 15th in the final standings and ahead of Big Ten champion Wisconsin.
No, Northern Illinois isn’t Boise State quite yet in terms of national respect – it’s going to take several big wins over BCS teams to start getting into that discussion – but after a few mediocre years, including a 2-10 2007 campaign, few have been more productive. The Huskies are in search of their 35th win in the last three seasons, which would be as many as Boise State. However, getting a big win is a must.
It might seem like a lifetime ago, but in 2003 the program was the talk of the college football world early on after beating Maryland, Alabama and Iowa State in the first month of the year on the way to a 10-2 season. The win over Kansas this season was the lone victory over a BCS conference team since beating Minnesota in early 2010, and while there have been some nice moments, this would easily be the biggest win in the program’s history and would take the team to another level.
Oh yeah, and Florida State is playing, too.
After dominating the 1990s and slogging through the 2000s, everyone has been waiting for the Seminoles to turn things back around and get back on the national title map. That hasn’t quite happened yet, but they got back over the ACC championship hump to get to the Orange Bowl for the first time since the 2005 season.
This isn’t the no-win situation it might appear to be. Northern Illinois might be in, but this is still a very good team in the BCS, and it’s still the Orange Bowl. While anything less than a complete and total blowout will be seen as a disappointment, a win would give Florida State its first 12-win season since winning the 1999 national championship and would make 2012 a tremendous success, even if the bar was set a bit higher.
While the hope is for NIU to show up and be good, recent history hasn’t been kind to the Orange with four straight disastrous games, with West Virginia beating Clemson 70-33 last season and Stanford embarrassing Virginia Tech 40-12 in the 2011 game. The ACC has lost the last three games in ugly fashion and has dropped eight of the last nine chances.
Either Florida State will bring the ACC a key win, or Northern Illinois will be the story of the bowl season. Either way, it’ll be worth watching. Really.
Players to Watch: Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch was never seriously in the Heisman chase – his best win came against Kent State – but he had numbers as good as any quarterback in America, running for a QB record-setting 1,771 yards and 19 touchdowns while throwing for 2,962 yards and 24 touchdowns with just five picks. While he struggled throwing the ball in the lone loss on the season, completing just 6-of-16 passes for 54 yards, he ran for 119 yard and a score to spark a phenomenal run of 12 100-yard games in 13 dates, with the lone exception coming in the blowout against UT Martin – he ran for three touchdowns and wasn’t needed much. He’s only 6-0 and 216 pounds, and he doesn’t have the type of cannon to stretch the field too much, but he’s a true baller with the right attitude and the right amount of confidence to think he can pull out the win.
It’s salary drive time for 6-4, 272-pound junior defensive end Bjoern Werner for Florida State, the ACC’s top end this season. Although he never got the same attention as his former tag team partner, the injured Brandon Jenkins, he has grown into a star of his own with 13 sacks and 40 tackles. Even now, former German soccer player is still learning the game, but he’s outstanding at shedding blockers with his upper body strength, and operates on a motor that never, ever quits.
6-2, 254-pound Huskie senior end Sean Progar might not exactly look the part of a speed rusher, but he’s a tough, quick end who finds ways to get into the backfield on a regular basis making 8.5 sacks with ten tackles for loss and 46 stops. With the right size to hold up against the run and a great burst off the edge, he has the total package of tools. On the other side is fellow senior Alan Baxter, who at 6-0 and 240 pounds he has good size and is really, really quick. Strong against the run with 67 tackles on the year, he’s better when it comes to getting to the quarterback with nine sacks, 13 tackles for loss and ten quarterback hurries.
Florida State will win if … the ends dominate and keep Lynch from taking off on the outside. The Seminoles might not be elite in terms of sacks and tackles for loss, but overall the run defense has been dominant against everyone who doesn’t bring the power. Florida was able to hammer away with its nasty offensive line and toughness, but Georgia Tech and Clemson, who rely a bit more on timing, speed and finesse, went nowhere. The Huskies aren’t going to line up and slug the Seminoles in the mouth, so as long as Werner and Cornellius Carradine are able to keep everything funneled inside, all should be fine.
On offense. QB E.J. Manuel has to avoid making any mistakes. While he has only thrown ten picks on the season, six of them came in the last four games including three against Florida. If everything is equal and there aren’t a massive amount of turnovers, FSU should win without a problem. That means Manuel doesn’t have to take any chances, has to run for the occasional first down rather than force any throws, and he needs to be in command of the attack. The O has had too many problems with fumbles, losing 16 on the year and 12 in the last six games, but if Manuel can play a clean game, everything should be fine.
Northern Illinois will win if … it doesn’t get intimidated and it does what it does well. Few teams in America are better at running the ball, mostly due to Lynch, but everything stars with a strong and versatile offensive line that has the ability to blast away when needed and the quickness to make things happen on the move. The line has to come out sharp against the tremendous Florida State defensive front, and, as a group, it needs to have s short memory. The Seminoles will come up with several big plays, but NIU has to keep doing what it does for the ground attack. On the other side, the defense has to keep the pressure on E.J. Manuel. Ninth in the nation in tackles for loss and 11th in sacks, the Huskies bring the heat with Progar and Baxter on the outside, but the D gets creative with pressure coming from all sides.
The Huskies can’t win unless they’re perfect. Florida State’s defense, as strong as it is overall, doesn’t create a ton of takeaways and the team is lousy overall in turnover margin. NIU has only given away five interceptions on the year, but fumbles have been occasionally a problem with 13 on the year and losing two in four games. It’s no coincidence that some of the toughest fights this year came when the O gave it up, turning it over three times in the battles against Toledo and Kent State, and Army stayed alive in the 41-40 shootout with three takeaways. NIU has to be at least +2 in turnover margin.
What Will Happen: It’s a bad matchup for Northern Illinois. As long as Florida State is taking this game seriously, there shouldn’t be any problems mainly because the speed and athleticism of the Seminole defensive front should overwhelm Lynch and keep the Huskie offense from making a big push. It’s not like NIU is multi-dimensional – if Lynch isn’t phenomenal, there’s no chance to pull off the upset. However, FSU has a nasty habit of playing down to its competition for stretches, but that won’t be the case in Miami. The Noles will take control early and will coast against an NIU team that won’t be able to get much going.
CFN Prediction: Florida State 37 …Northern Illinois 17
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Florida State -13.5 O/U: 58.5
Orange Bowl History
2012 West Virginia 70, Northern Illinois 33
2011 Stanford 40, Virginia Tech 12
2010 Iowa 24, Georgia Tech 14
Virginia Tech 20, Cincinnati 7
Kansas 24, Virginia Tech 21
Louisville 24, Wake Forest 13
Penn St 26, Florida St 23 3OT
USC 55, Oklahoma 19
Miami 16, Florida State 14
USC 38, Iowa 17
Florida 56, Maryland 23
Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2
Michigan 35, Alabama 34 (OT)
Florida 31, Syracuse 10
Nebraska 42, Tennessee 17
Nebraska 41, Virginia Tech 21
Florida St 31, Notre Dame 26
Nebraska 24, Miami 17
Florida State 18, Nebraska 16
Florida State 27, Nebraska 14
Miami 22, Nebraska 0
Colorado 10, Notre Dame 9
Notre Dame 21, Colorado 6
Miami 23, Nebraska 3
Miami 20, Oklahoma 14
Oklahoma 42, Arkansas 8
Oklahoma 25, Penn State 10
Washington 28, Oklahoma 17
Miami 31, Nebraska 30
Nebraska 21, LSU 20
Clemson 22, Nebraska 15
Oklahoma 18, Florida State 17
Oklahoma 24, Florida State 7
Oklahoma 31, Nebraska 24
Arkansas 31, Oklahoma 0
Ohio State 27, Colorado 10
Oklahoma 14, Michigan 6
Notre Dame 13, Alabama 11
Penn State 16, LSU 9
Nebraska 40, Notre Dame 6
Nebraska 38, Alabama 6
Nebraska 17, LSU 12
Penn State 10, Missouri 3
Penn State 15, Kansas 14
Oklahoma 26, Tennessee 24
Florida 27, Georgia Tech 12
Alabama 39, Nebraska 28
Texas 21, Alabama 17
Nebraska 13, Auburn 7
Alabama 17, Oklahoma 0
LSU 25, Colorado 7
Missouri 21, Navy 14
Georgia 14, Missouri 0
Oklahoma 21, Syracuse 6
Oklahoma 48, Duke 21
Colorado 27, Clemson 21
Oklahoma 20, Maryland 6
Duke 34, Nebraska 7
Oklahoma 7, Maryland 0
Alabama 61, Syracuse 6
Georgia Tech 17, Baylor 14
Clemson 15, Miami 14
Santa Clara 21, Kentucky 13
Texas 41, Georgia 28
Georgia Tech 20, Kansas 14
Rice 8, Tennessee 0
Miami 13, Holy Cross 6
Tulsa 26, Georgia Tech 12
LSU 19, Texas A&M 14
Alabama 37, Boston College 21
Georgia 40, TCU 26
Mississippi State 14, Georgetown 7
Georgia Tech 21, Missouri 7
Tennessee 17, Oklahoma 0
Auburn 6, Michigan State 0
Duquesne 13, Mississippi State 12
Catholic 20, Mississippi 19
Bucknell 26, Miami 0