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Florida State Played Faster, Stronger than Northern Illinois

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Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Lynch looked unstoppable at times for the Northern Illinois Huskies this season.

But against the ACC‘s top ranked defensive unit – the Florida State Seminoles – Lynch’s style of waiting for gaps to develop by patiently picking an open area never materialized, and the 2012 MAC Player of the Year was held in check on the ground. Lynch ran for 44 yards on 23 carries during the Huskies 31-10 loss to the Seminoles on New Year’s day in the Discover Orange Bowl.

Controversial comments made by Lynch earlier in the week turned out to be nothing more than talk that wasn’t backed up by his own play, as the Seminoles turned out to be the team that pounded the ball in the fourth quarter.

While Lynch was ultimately the main reason why Northern Illinois had the chance to crash and bash the New Year in South Beach, he seemed off-mark throughout the game. Lynch had a few throws that could have gained big yards but went past his receivers on several plays.

The Seminoles’ defense rattled Lynch early and often, but the Huskies’ quarterback continued to push for short-yardage gains.  Lynch couldn’t break off a major run, as Florida State’s defense oflowed and swarmed with ease when he carried the ball. Half of his rushing yards came on a 22-yard run – the longest on the night for one of the nation’s top runners.

After cutting the the deficit to 17-10, Northern Illinois executed an onside kick, but Lynch ended up throwing an interception while the Huskies were driving. The interception by Seminoles’ defensive back Terrence Brooks was the last gasp of air that was sucked out of the Huskies.

Florida State’s offensive line was too much for the Huskies’ front seven to stop. The Seminoles’ size advantage up front helped them pave the way for running backs to put the finishing touches on the Huskies.

Through all the successful calls of trickery from Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey – a fake punt and onside kick – the Huskies successfully caught Florida State off guard.

But when it came down to the basics and not obscure play calling, the Seminoles were just better. Florida State didn’t have to try anything out of their game plan to catch the Huskies napping.


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Northern Illinois Huskies Need Offensive Bounceback in Poinsettia Bowl

The Northern Illinois Huskies were one win away from making their second straight trip the BCS in 2013 before running into a brick wall in the form of the Bowling Green Falcons in the MAC Championship game. Bowling Green’s top-ten defense contained the high-powered offensive attack of NIU and upset the Huskies to keep them from busting the BCS yet again. Northern Illinois will have to find a way to bounce back offensively in a hurry, however, as they face another tough defensive challenge in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl against the Utah State Aggies.

The MAC title game was the first time all season long that NIU failed to score at least 30 points in a game. Combined with a rough day on defense, the Huskies faced a lopsided upset loss at the hands of the Falcons thanks to their physical defense which were able to keep Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch somewhat contained and even forced a pair of interceptions out of the offensive leader of the Huskies’ attack.

They will need to figure out what went wrong in a hurry, though, as Utah State brings a similarly stingy defense to the Poinsettia Bowl. The Aggies rank No. 12 nationally in total defense this season and No. 10 against the run. They have a physical defensive front that helped turn around Utah State’s season after a rough 3-3 start to 2013 that ended up in the Moutain West Conference Championship game in their very first year in the conference.

NIU will be challenged by the Aggies when they square off. If they stumble in the same way they did against Bowling Green, Lynch will leave the Huskies with a disappointing and unsatisfying finale to his collegiate career. Can the Huskies fix what failed them in the MAC title game and come out ahead against Utah State?

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