Although they had a chance to make a BCS bowl game after finishing the regular season with a 12-0 record, the Northern Illinois Huskies dropped their final game of the year in the MAC title. It looks like the 2012 season will finish as a disappointing one for a team looking to make their second BCS bowl game.
On the other side of the field, the Utah State Aggies have had a solid season, finishing with an 8-5 record and a loss in the conference title game. Starting the year with a 3-4 record, not many people thought they’d have a chance to make a run at a bowl game, but they won their next five games before losing the title game.
Northern Illinois is lucky to have one of the best and most dynamic, electric quarterbacks in the nation behind center week in and week out. Jordan Lynch is one of six Heisman finalists this season, passing for 2,676 yards and 23 touchdowns while rushing for another 1,881 yards and 22 scores on the ground. He leads the team in rushing, but Cameron Stingily is “close” behind with 1,081 yards and nine touchdowns for the fifth-best rushing offense in the nation.
Utah State has a talented quarterback of its own in Chuckie Keeton who was supposed to lead the Aggies to a conference title this season, but he suffered an injury in the sixth game of the year, forcing him to miss the remainder of the season and likely the bowl game as well. Freshman quarterback Darrell Garretson has passed for 1,325 yards and nine touchdowns in Keeton’s absence, but suffered a concussion in the final game of the season. Travis Reynolds leads all wide outs with 51 catches for 832 yards and four scores. Joey DeMartino leads all receivers with 1,078 yards and 12 scores.
Defensively, the Huskies are a pretty average unit. Northern Illinois ranks 55th in the nation in points allowed per game as well as 66th in yards allowed per contest. Utah State has been much better on this side of the ball, ranking seventh in the nation in points allowed per contest as well as 18th in yards allowed per game.
Utah State and Northern Illinois will face off in the 2013 Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, Calif., at 9:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 26. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN.
PREDICTION: Northern Illinois 38, Utah State 24
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.