NCAA Football ACC FootballFlorida State SeminolesMid-American FootballNorthern Illinois Huskies

Florida State Better Not Mess this ACC Momentum Up in the Discover Orange Bowl

James Wilder Jr. Florida State

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Happy New Year, folks!

As an ACC Football and especially a 14th-ranked Clemson Tigers fan today is the greatest day and the best new year ever, simply because the mighty SEC and one of its elite teams, the LSU Tigers, were out muscled and taken down in front of a packed arena and on national TV.

And all that leaves a simple task for the ACC Conference Champion in tonight’s Discover Orange Bowl: don’t screw up and lose the respect and momentum created in the last few hours of 2012.

The 12th-ranked Florida State Seminoles will put it all on the line against the Cinderella story in the 15th-ranked Northern Illinois Huskies at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.

To be honest, 48-hours ago this was a game that most ACC fans could have cared less about if the ‘Noles won or lost. But things changed quickly with that Clemson win in Atlanta, Georgia last night. It is simply time for FSU to showcase the athleticism and talent it has to prove once and for all the ACC is an top-tier football conference.

Yes, the lame-duck Huskies led by all-everything Jordan Lynch will be ready to play and prove to the world MAC Football deserves respect and isn’t afraid to play anyone anywhere.

“They are fast and they are physical, but they haven’t seen anything like our offense.” Lynch told the Sporting News. “We play an uptempo pace. We play really fast, a lot of shifting, guys going back and forth each way. It causes a lot of confusion. As soon as we get that rhythm going, it’s pretty hard to stop. We plan on wearing them down in the fourth quarter. We plan to have them on their knees and to just keep pounding away.”

Quite a bold statement by the team that hasn’t ever been on this stage in their history. Lynch is a phenomenal player and the ACC has had a tendency to play down to it’s opponent in the past.

But pump the breaks a bit, kid…

The Seminoles are not the Maryland Terrapins. And didn’t Lynch and the Huskies lose to the mighty Iowa Hawkeyes? Either way, FSU can’t overlook its opponent tonight at all. And after the success of last night, the ‘Noles need to teach the Huskies a lesson about Big Boy Football.

Florida State will showcase its explosive talent and Lynch will have some exciting and big plays. But in the end, the ‘Noles defense will prevail while the running game led by James Wilder will run angry leading FSU to a 40-17 victory.

And the new found dominance of the ACC live on…


M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.

Follow him @woodysmalls.