Senior EJ Manuel can honestly say he ended his collegiate career on a high note as the senior quarterback led his Florida State Seminoles to a victory in the Discover Orange Bowl.
Manuel became one of two quarterbacks to ever lead his team to four consecutive bowl victories, starting in every bowl game in his college career.
After Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch challenged the Seminoles, reportedly saying that the Seminoles had yet to see an offense like theirs, Florida State accepted the challenge and shut the explosive quarterback down.
Sure, Lynch is a heck of a player and a great athlete at quarterback, but the Huskies no doubt over-achieved this season. They made the Orange Bowl although no one outside of the Northern Illinois program believed that they deserved a spot in the game.
It looked like a mismatch from the beginning and that’s just how the game ended up.
EJ Manuel was playing like he had something to prove, playing great and looking like a solid NFL prospect. His motivation could have surely been his mother, Jackie, who couldn’t make it to the bowl game to see her son as she has been courageously battling breast cancer.
Whatever motivated Manuel could be what won him a spot on an NFL team come April. Although he was already expected to be drafted in April, he just helped out his stock with the performance he had against the Huskies.
Manuel was 27 for 39 with 295 yards and a touchdown, also rushing for another score. He finished his career at Florida State with over 7,300 passing yards and 46 touchdowns and finishing 25-6 as the starting quarterback– not too bad for the 6-foot-5 quarterback.
The game was close throughout until late in the third quarter when Florida State’s defense made a key interception and giving Lynch fits all day long. Lynch finished with 176 yards passing on just 17 of 41 completions while rushing for just 44 yards on 23 carries. He also threw for one touchdown and one interception.
Northern Illinois will go down as one of the better MAC teams to ever compete at this high of a level and it was just a mismatch with a very good Florida State team.