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Can the Northern Illinois Huskies Repeat Historic Season in 2013?

Jordan Lynch at the line

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Although many NCAA football experts called it a reach, the Northern Illinois Huskies were selected to play in the Discover Orange Bowl versus the Florida State Seminoles in 2012. Unfortunately, the Huskies were merely overpowered in this contest and the motivation to prove everyone wrong slowly dwindled. Now, NIU is given the tough task of repeating the same Cinderella run, but will they even be relevant in 2013?

Playing in the MAC, the Huskies are rarely in the spotlight, so when they were overmatched by the Seminoles it left a bad taste in the nation’s mouth. Head coach Rod Carey was given the position hours before the Discover Orange Bowl as Dave Doeren bolted for another job after guiding the Huskies through a historic campaign.

Carey has plenty to prove in his first full season with the program, but he does not have the luxury of starting with minimal expectations. The folks in Dekalb, Ill., have the taste of success fresh in their mouths and will not settle for mediocrity yet again. One player to keep an eye on as spring practices ensue is quarterback Jordan Lynch. While under center in 2012 Lynch dazzled with 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions — Lynch will be given a larger load this year as last season was the first time he was deemed a full-time starter.

The Huskies have a speed-demon in Lynch who rushed for 100 yards or more in all but one game last season. Look for Lynch to continue making an impact on the ground as NIU does not have much offense outside of the versatile quarterback.

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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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Related Links

2013 Heisman Trophy: Jameis Winston Takes Home What Jordan Lynch Deserved

Northern Illinois vs. Utah State 2013 Bowl Game Preview With TV Schedule

Bowling Green Falcons: QB Matt Johnson Outduels NIU’s Jordan Lynch For Upset Victory

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