The 2013 BCS Orange Bowl between the Florida State Seminoles and Northern Illinois Huskies should result in a lopsided blowout—or at least that's what has been said for the last month leading up to tonight's matchup.
Not so fast.
This game should be a lot closer than you think and will leave those fans back in Tallahassee hanging on the edge of their seats. Then again, with the game taking place in Sun Life Stadium, I'm sure a lot of them would actually be at the game. Hopefully for their sake, this game doesn't turn into a victory for the team that has been counted out by most of the college football world.
Here is why the Huskies have a shot in the big game tonight.
Florida State Hasn't Looked Great
Why does Northern Illinois stand a chance?
The better question may be why everybody loves this Florida State team so much.
Besides failing to reach a BCS bowl or a national championship, this has been another disappointing year for the Seminoles. It is a team that has really taken advantage of a weak schedule and has had trouble with some of the tougher programs during the season.
Who do you have in tonight’s game?
There was really no excuse for losing to North Carolina State, and Florida simply ran it down their throat for 244 yards. But even with those two losses, Florida State had trouble putting Virginia Tech away, had a few issues against Miami and barely escaped with its life against Georgia Tech in the ACC championship.
Even with all of the talent on this roster, this hasn't looked like a championship-quality team. With some of the struggles against subpar opponents, you would be foolish to just write off a possible upset in this situation.
The Seminoles have not looked like world beaters throughout the year and could have easily been forced to settle for a non-BCS bowl. Injuries have played a part in this season's failures, but this is still a squad that hasn’t lit it up throughout the year.
This isn't Alabama, Oregon or another quality team that blows its opponents out on a regular basis. This is Florida State, and with the lack of consistent football, it is a team that can be beaten in tonight's matchup.
Jordan Lynch Is a Stud
Maybe you haven't paid much attention to Northern Illinois this season. If this was the case, you are certainly not alone. Or maybe you heard about the Northern Illinois quarterback and didn't think he was that great to take over a football game. The truth is that Jordan Lynch is simply a monster with the ball in his hands and can make things happen.
The junior quarterback is third in the country, averaging 364 total yards a game. He is completing nearly 63 percent of his passes and leads the team with 1,771 rushing yards. He has produced 33 passing plays of more than 25 passing yards and has 17 runs that have gone for more than 20 yards. Lynch is averaging 6.5 yards a carry on the ground, and his quarterback rating is good for 24th in the college football.
Save the talk about the teams he has put these numbers up against; you don't see statistics like this every day. The fact is that he is an efficient quarterback and has the overwhelming playmaking ability to give his team more than a puncher's chance to win this ballgame.
When you have a quarterback who can make plays in many different ways and does a good job of holding onto the football, you have to believe in miracles.
Lynch is nearly this entire Northern Illinois offense, but if he can continue to play Superman for one more game, the Seminoles may be in trouble.
I really can't say it enough how important motivation is during this time of the year. Instead of only having a week to prepare, Northern Illinois players have had an entire month to hear why they don't belong in this matchup. They have also heard that Florida State is going to run all over them and the outcome won't even be close.
Hearing things like this would only motivate anybody that is even somewhat passionate about the game of football. While many may think that motivation doesn't make up for the talent gap between the two teams, it does have a funny way of making you play better than you really are.
Just look at the Clemson defense against the LSU offense. Georgia Tech played with a chip on its shoulder against USC. Even Rutgers played motivated and inspired football in an upset victory over Virginia Tech.
An underrated team that is also motivated to prove its worth on a national stage is a really scary opponent.
The team that has been laughed at through the month of December may be the team that gets to laugh last.
Note: All stats come from CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted.