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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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MAC Championship Preview and Prediction: Bowling Green Falcons vs. Northern Illinois Huskies





The MAC Championship game will provide the perfect stage for a classic battle between the league’s top ranked defense (Bowling Green Falcons) and the conference’s best rushing attack (Northern Illinois Huskies). Fans will be treated to great football on Friday night, and the team that emerges victorious will have the opportunity to hoist the championship trophy in Ford Field.

For the Bowling Green Falcons (9-3), their season has been filled with dominating performances behind their top ranked defense. On the season, the Falcons have surrendered 13.8 points per game (best in the MAC) and are ranked 5th in the nation in scoring defense. Led by a veteran group of linebackers and defensive backs, the Falcons have reeled off four straight victories to end their season and surrendered a total of 17 points during the four game stretch. Bowling Green is very solid against the run giving up 134.8 rushing yards per game and is allowing 161.8 passing yards per game.

The Falcons have been very good at generating a pass rush this year and have accumulated 27 sacks thorough 12 games. Senior defensive lineman Ted Ouellet leads the team with 4.5 sacks. The Falcons have been very opportunistic in creating turnovers and are a plus-9 in turnover margin on the year.

In order to pick up the victory on Friday, the Falcons must contain Northern Illinois (12-0) quarterback Jordan Lynch. Lynch is a dual threat player that is having a Heisman type season. Lynch has completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 2,457 passing yards with 22 touchdowns and five interceptions. He leads the team in rushing with 1,755 yards (7.1 yards per carry) and has 20 touchdowns on the ground.

Bowling Green must force Northern Illinois to throw the football and cannot let the rushing attack beat them on Friday. Falcons safety Jerry “Boo Boo” Gates will be instrumental in run support against a Huskies’ rushing attack averaging 318.9 yards per game (4th in the country). The ability for Gates to come up and help out in creating pressure on the Huskies offensive line will be critical to the Falcons forcing third down and long situations.

Bowling Green will need the defense to create field position for their offense. The Falcons are averaging 34.4 points per game (33rd overall) and are very balanced. Bowling Green is averaging 254.4 passing yards per game (40th in the nation) and is averaging 209.6 rushing yards per game (24th in the country).

The Falcons have a very big and physical offensive line so look for them to try and wear down a Huskies defense yielding 23.6 points per game (39th overall). Northern Illinois is giving up 147.5 rushing yards per game, but it has been the secondary that has been vulnerable giving up 263.8 passing yards per game.

Northern Illinois must force the Falcons into short to intermediate throws and into slowly working down the field. Falcons quarterback Matt Johnson is having a solid season completing 63.2 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions on the year.

Prediction: Conventional wisdom states that Northern Illinois will win this game, but look for the Bowling Green defense to make a statement and pull off the upset. The Falcons will create a late turnover and hand Northern Illinois their first defeat of the season.

Bowling Green 35 Northern Illinois 31

Joseph Lisi is a writer for Rantsports.com, follow him on Twitter @GoForthe2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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Northern Illinois Huskies QB Jordan Lynch Shouldn't Be Left Out In Heisman Race





As the college football season winds down this week, fans will look to the first week of December to find out the nominations for this year’s Heisman trophy. This season has proved to be a wide open race, with front-runner after front-runner falling off the radar due to poor performances in big games.

However, Northern Illinois Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch continues to perform at a higher level each week and seems to be getting stronger down the stretch run. The senior continues to dominate the MAC and has had signature moments in the final month that have led his team to a perfect 12-0 record.

However, even with the team’s success, Lynch is rarely mentioned as a possible Heisman winner. Standing at 6-feet, 216 pounds, Lynch is a dual-threat quarterback that steps up in big games. On the year, the senior has completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 2,457 yards with 22 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Lynch is lethal in the Huskies’ high-powered rushing attack that is averaging 318.9 rushing yards per game, and is ranked fourth in the nation. On the season, Lynch has burned opponents for 1,755 yards for 7.1 yards per carry and 20 touchdowns, and is ranked second in the nation behind Boston College‘s Andre Williams.

Lynch is a gamer and is not afraid to run between the tackles. He has shown poise and is leading his team to a second-straight MAC Championship berth while continuing to make the players around him better.

Lynch has had a couple of signature moments in 2013. Against Central Michigan on October 19, he ran wild over the Chippewas in the 38-17 victory. He set an FBS record for quarterbacks for rushing yards with 316 (9.9 yards per carry) and nine touchdowns. Lynch refused to be taken down by one player and showed heart in leading his team to victory that day.

Playing in his final regular season MAC game on Tuesday night, the senior went out with a bang, breaking his rushing record from Week 8 with 321 rushing yards (11.9 yards per carry) and three touchdowns. Lynch guided the Huskies to the 33-14 victory over Western Michigan and solidified him as one of the best players in the MAC over the last decade.

While many experts and analysts will argue the fact that Lynch has accumulated his statistics in the MAC, they forget to realize that the Huskies have defeated two Big 10 teams this season in Iowa and Purdue. Both of those games took place on the road, and Lynch remained cool and collected in burning both teams with his arm. Lynch completed 65.4 percent in both games for 482 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions.

In a year where there is no clear-cut choice for the Heisman, Jordan Lynch deserves to be sitting in New York come December with a an opportunity to bring home the trophy.

Joseph Lisi is a writer for Rantsports.com, follow him on Twitter @GoForthe2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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