When NIU faces Florida State in the Orange Bowl, Jordan Lynch is going to turn the game into a star-making showcase before a national audience.
The junior quarterback for Northern Illinois is not a household name by any means, yet he is one of the most electrifying players in all of college football.
In his first season starting under center for the Huskies, Lynch has spearheaded one of the most versatile offenses in the nation. Thanks to his offensive firepower, Northern Illinois is 14th in the NCAA with 485.8 yards per game and seventh with 40.8 points per game.
Lynch does not rank quite so highly on the passing leaderboards. He has completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 2,962 yards through the air, and he has thrown for 24 touchdowns against just five interceptions.
Those are good but not great numbers, even more impressive when you consider he was a running back until he got to high school.
Lynch had to fight just to be a quarterback. Purdue, Colorado and Illinois wanted Lynch, but only NIU wanted him to pass.
"They wanted me just to be an athlete, a safety or running back or receiver. Whatever it was," Lynch said.
Lynch's athleticism is his greatest asset as a QB, and it has become the focal point of the NIU offense.
In all of the Football Bowl Subdivision, Lynch ranks fourth in rushing yards with 1,771. Take note: That's not fourth among quarterbacks; it's fourth overall. The next QB on that list is Braxton Miller of Ohio State, who is way down at 24th with 1,271 yards, exactly 500 fewer than Lynch.
This season, Lynch posted stellar stats and led the Huskies to a 12-1 record and an improbable berth in a BCS bowl, putting him in the Heisman Trophy conversation despite very little national exposure. He finished seventh in this year's voting, and he projects to be one of the front-runners for the award in 2013.
We'll look back on this Orange Bowl as the game in which Lynch emerged as a legitimate NFL QB prospect. He fits into the dual-threat quarterbacking trend that is sweeping the pros, and he is supremely confident in his ability to execute under center.
From the Sporting News:
"They're fast, they're physical," NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch told Sporting News before the team headed to Miami on Wednesday, "but they haven't seen anything like our offense."
Oh, but that red-alert to FSU's defense (ranked No. 5 in the country, mind you) was just the slightest taste of the juicy stuff.
"We play an uptempo pace," Lynch went on. "We play really fast, a lot of shifting, guys going back and forth each way. It causes a lot of confusion. As soon as we get that rhythm going, it's pretty hard to stop.
"We plan on wearing them down. In the fourth quarter, we plan to have them on their knees—and then just keep pounding away."
It's an audacious statement for a mid-major QB about to play in a BCS bowl, but it's true. FSU has never experienced what Lynch and the Huskies can do on offense—they're the only ones that can do it.
NIU's Orange Bowl hopes rest squarely on the shoulders of Jordan Lynch. He and his team have surprised everyone this season.
But this is going to be the game when America learns that Lynch and the Huskies are for real.