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Orange Bowl 2013: Northern Illinois Will Be Tough Opponent for Florida State

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Orange Bowl 2013: Northern Illinois Will Be Tough Opponent for Florida State
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We tend to fall into the trap of always assuming just because a football team lit up inferior competition in an inferior conference that said team shouldn't be taken seriously.

That appears to be the case with No. 15 Northern Illinois this season, who is a big underdog to No. 12 Florida State heading into the 2013 Orange Bowl.

This is despite the Huskies averaging 40.8 points (ninth in the nation) behind a dynamic dual-threat quarterback in Jordan Lynch, who has rushed for the third-most yards in the FBS.

While Florida State has ceded just 15.1 points per game this season (sixth in the country), the Seminoles aren't invincible. They gave up 37 points to Clemson on Sept. 22. More recently, they gave up 37 points to Florida and 22 points to Virginia Tech (anybody who watched the Russell Athletic Bowl will be astounded by that number).

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The biggest challenge for Lynch and the Huskies will be making ground on Florida State's vaunted run defense, which has allowed 2.76 yards per carry this season (fifth in the nation), according CFBStats.com. That includes holding Georgia Tech's explosive option attack to 3.5 yards per carry in the ACC Championship Game.

On the other hand, the Seminoles did allow Gators running backs Mike Gillislee and Matt Jones to combine for 221 yards and three touchdowns on the ground on Nov. 24.

While Northern Illinois has played in the mocked MAC this season, averaging 5.6 yards per carry (fifth in the nation) and totaling 44 rushing touchdowns (fourth) is nothing to sneeze at.

Nor are the words of Lynch when asked about the Seminoles defense.

Lynch said, via Sporting News:

They're fast, they're physical, but they haven't seen anything like our offense.

We plan on wearing them down. In the fourth quarter, we plan to have them on their knees—and then just keep pounding away.

Talk about confidence.

That's another thing Northern Illinois has going for it—this team actually believes it can defeat the ACC powerhouse. Not only that, it believes it can handle Florida State.

I'm not saying Northern Illinois will win this game (I have the Huskies losing by seven points), but I do think it's going to be much closer than many believe. You can't fault a team for beating up on lesser opponents and I believe the Northern Illinois offense is for real.

In Northern Illinois' first BCS bowl game, expect the Huskies to come out with a point to prove. Expect this to be a competitive battle.

 

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