The Florida State Seminoles are heavy favorites headed into the 2013 Orange Bowl. After all, the Northern Illinois Huskies come from a weaker conference and are playing with an interim head coach.
But this is the classic David vs. Goliath matchup, and the Huskies could certainly surprise some people as the heavy underdog. Florida State is currently favored by 13 points over Northern Illinois, but the Seminoles haven't played an offensive attack like Northern Illinois's so far this season.
And despite the Seminoles having the country's No. 7-ranked scoring defense, the Northern Illinois offense will frustrate Florida State on Tuesday night.
The Huskies are led by quarterback Jordan Lynch, who leads all Division I quarterbacks in rushing yards. Lynch leads the team with 1,771 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground, proving to be a legitimate game-breaker when in the open field.
But he brings more to the table than just running the football. On the season, Lynch has completed 62.9 percent of his passes, including 24 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
Lynch's favorite target is senior wide receiver Martel Moore, who has already eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards on the season. His 12 touchdowns also lead the team.
The Huskies' ball security this season has been tremendous. And against a stout Florida State defense, Lynch and company will certainly need to take care of the football.
One way the Huskies will try to control the game will be on the ground. On top of Lynch running the ball from the quarterback position, Northern Illinois uses a combination of Leighton Settle and Akeem Daniels at running back.
Neither player is the same home-run threat as Lynch, but both are capable of grinding out tough yards. Daniels could have a big day, as he averages 6.6 yards per carry and has found the end zone nine times this season on the ground.
Florida State is undoubtedly a very strong defense. And just as the Huskies' offense figures to frustrate the Seminoles, Florida State's defense will certainly give the Huskies problems at times.
But several Seminoles have one foot out the door and one eye on the NFL, whereas this hungry Northern Illinois team is focused solely on winning the 2013 Orange Bowl. Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher will have his team ready to play, but they may not be ready for this unique Northern Illinois offense.
New Year's Day 2013 offers its typical full day of competitive college football, and the Orange Bowl figures to be the perfect finish to a great slate of bowl games.