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Poinsettia Bowl 2013: Preview and Prediction for Utah State vs Northern Illinois

DEKALB, IL - NOVEMBER 26: Quarterback Jordan Lynch #6 of the Northern Illinois Huskies stands on the field during the first quarter against the Western Michigan Broncos at Huskie Stadium on November 26, 2013 in DeKalb, Illinois. Northern Illinois defeated Western Michigan 33-14. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
Brian Kersey/Getty Images
Tim KeeneyContributor IDecember 19, 2013

From Bowl Championship Series to San Diego Credit Union. 

That's the far-from-glorious path No. 23 Northern Illinois has taken, seeing a second consecutive BCS bid slip through its hands after a 47-27 drubbing by Bowling Green in the MAC title game. Its consolation prize?

The Poinsettia Bowl, against 8-5 Utah State. 

While the disappointment for the Huskies is palpable, however, don't for a second think head coach Rod Carey is going to let his team play with a lack of motivation. 

“This game doesn’t define us — we’re not going to let it,” Carey said after the defeat, via The Washington Post. “We still have a lot to play for.”

Heisman finalist quarterback Jordan Lynch added, "We never talked about the BCS."

The Huskies better keep that mindset at Qualcomm Stadium, because Utah State has won five of its past six games and features the type of stingy defense that will make Lynch's dynamic offense uncomfortable. 

 

Date: Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013

Time: 9:30 p.m. ET

Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Calif. 

TV: ESPN

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Odds: Northern Illinois (-1.5), via Covers

Over/Under: 58

 

Storyline: Can Utah State's Defense Slow Down Jordan Lynch?

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 09:  Paul Piukala #48 of the Utah State Aggies rallies his teammates before their game against the UNLV Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium on November 9, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Utah State won 28-24.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Image
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Aggies are giving up 18.2 points per game, which is the eighth-best mark in the country, per TeamRankings.com. They're best against the run, where they are giving up a minuscule 2.8 yards per carry. 

That's not exactly good news for the Huskies, who get most of their offensive production via the ground. They are averaging 307.9 rushing yards per contest on 6.5 yards per carry. 

Lynch, who finished third in Heisman voting, is at the center of that, with 1,881 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns on the season. He's had an absurd eight games where he's surpassed 100 yards on the ground and two where he went for 300 or more. 

Something's got to give. 

 

Prediction: Utah State 31, Northern Illinois 38

The Aggies' defense is stout, but they haven't faced anyone like Lynch. 

On the other side of the field, the Huskies don't exactly have an elite defense, but Utah State doesn't have the same kind of offensive firepower to keep up. 

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