Florida State 11-2 (7-1) vs. Northern Illinois 12-1 (8-0)
8:30 ESPN 1/1/2013
#1. Jordan Lynch vs. Bjoern Werner/Mario Edwards Jr
There has not been one FBS team that has held Jordan Lynch to under 100 yards rushing. The key to the game for FSU seems to be to stop one player….Jordan Lynch! He is pretty much everything for the Northern Illinois offense and is one of the best (if not the best) dual-threat quarterback in college football. Florida State has seen similar dual-threat quarterbacks in Tajh Boyd and Jeff Driskel, both of which had success against the ‘Noles. Jordan hasn’t quite seen two defensive ends like he will on New Years night. Bjoern is a projected first round pick. And, even though Mario Edwards Jr. is making only his second start, he’s no slouch either. He was Rivals.com’s #1 recruit last year and saw limited playing time earlier in the season due to future NFL players Tank Carradine and Brandon Jenkins already being there.
#2. Coaching Staffs
Both programs have taken hits with losing coaches to other schools. NIU head coach Dave Doeren left to take the North Carolina State position. Mark Stoops, Florida State’s former defensive coordinator, took the head coaching job at Kentucky. With some assistants having their mind elsewhere, it will be up to FSU’s Jimbo Fisher and new NIU head coach Rod Carey to regroup and focus. We will see which coaching staff comes into the game the most focused and ready to coach a great game.
#3. EJ Manuel vs. NIU Secondary
The two teams that beat Florida State this year caused EJ Manuel to make many mistakes from throwing interceptions, fumbles, and taking bad sacks. EJ, at times this year, looked confused trying to read the coverage and made horrible decisions. If NIU can consistently mix up their coverage and keep EJ thinking they will find much success.
The one Major Key to Victory
- The Huskies have to keep it close. They cannot fall far behind. Jimbo Fisher has shown this year that when games are close he takes his play calling and goes into a shell. Even with a small lead, Fisher will try to protect it with very conservative play calling. It was shown this year in the loss to NC State and the near losses to Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. If NIU goes into the 4th quarter only trailing by a touchdown or two they have a great shot to win it. And remember they have nothing to lose.
- PLAY TO WIN! DO NOT PLAY TO NOT LOSE! You’re the favorite. You should go out and win. Building a two touchdown lead will not cut it. You have almost every advantage in the talent match-ups, but you have to put your players in the right situation and show confidence in them. Even though you are the favorite, respect NIU and what they have done. Remember that you are 1-5 in these type of bowl games and that your whole entire conference has only won 2 BCS bowl games.
PREDICTION: Florida State 24, Northern Illinois 20