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Northern Illinois’ Hopes for a Perfect Season Still Alive, Thanks to Jordan Lynch


Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Fox television has American Idol and NBC has America’s Got Talent, so what ESPN2 had on Wednesday night could be called its version of America’s Hottest Unheralded Talent.

The “sexiest” star of this show was Jordan Lynch, a quarterback who has been mentioned for the Heisman for the past two seasons.

Lynch led Northern Illinois to a 48-27 win over Ball State that gave the Huskies a clear path to clinching the MAC West Division championship and more importantly a BCS bowl bid. Lynch finished with 468 yards of total offense.

The game also featured two of the hottest coaching commodities at the end of the season in Pete Lembo of Ball State and Rod Carey of Northern Illinois. Both will undoubtedly get offers from higher-profile schools at the end of the season.

That’s because past history dictates that schools with available head coaching jobs often pick a MAC head coach who has done well at those schools. Minnesota struck gold with Jerry Kill of Northern Illinois; Michigan has had some success with Brady Hoke, who once coached at Ball State. Two Central Michigan coaches, Brian Kelly (now at Notre Dame) and Butch Jones (now at Tennessee) helped Cincinnati win four Big East titles in a five-year period before using the Bearcats the way they used the Chippewas. Miami plucked then MAC coach Al Golden from Temple and has been smiling all the way to the bank ever since.

Lembo had a brilliant game plan that handled everything but Lynch’s ability to improvise and adjust. Both he and Carey likely will be gone and, next year, the process will no doubt be repeated again in an important MAC game near the end of the season. In a college football world where the big programs survive by eating the smaller ones, that’s the law of natural selection. While not entirely fair, it does make for compelling mid-week TV.

Mike Gibson, an Associated Press Sports Editors’ Association and Keystone Press Association award-winner for Best Sports Story and Best Sports Feature, is a writer for Follow him on Twitter @papreps , “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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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?

You can follow me on Twitter @Teeblerone, on Facebook and on Google

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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