Poinsettia Bowl Flop Makes Fans Wonder How Jordan Lynch Was a Heisman Finalist

Ben KerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterDecember 27, 2013

USA Today

If there's one thing that deserves to be said about Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, it's that he's an exciting player who has had an historic career. 

Of course, NIU's bitter 21-14 loss to Utah State in the Poinsettia Bowl isn't the way Lynch wanted to end it. Still, Lynch has accomplished a lot during his time with the Huskies. 

He came a mere 80 rushing yards short from being the first FBS player to run and pass for 2,000 yards in a single season. He finished with 100 career touchdowns, and he's one of only five players with 20 rushing and 20 passing touchdowns in a season.

Lynch is 24-4 as a starter and was a finalist for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award, which recognizes seniors who succeed on and off the field. 

He was also a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, finishing third in the final voting behind Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron. 

After Thursday's bowl performance, however, critics who believed Lynch shouldn't have been a Heisman finalist were out in full force. 

For all the gaudy numbers Lynch has put up over his career, his last two games have provided legitimate reason to question whether he should have received enough votes to go to New York for the Heisman ceremony. 

Lynch produced 345 total yards (219 passing and 126 rushing) and three touchdowns in the MAC Championship loss to Bowling Green earlier this month, but he also threw two interceptions. Against Utah State, Lynch accounted for both of NIU's turnovers, losing a fumble and throwing an interception. 

He also wasn't nearly as effective running the ball against the Aggies as he normally has been, rushing 18 times for 39 yards, as Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports noted:

Of course, Northern Illinois' poor offensive showing wasn't solely on the quarterback. Utah State's defense had receivers covered downfield all evening and stuffed the run consistently. There was nowhere for the Huskies to go. 

Still, Lynch's performance brings to mind last season's Orange Bowl against Florida State in which he completed less than 40 percent of his passes and averaged fewer than two yards per carry. 

It's a damper on what has otherwise been a career worthy of praise. 

Lynch may be an exciting player, but was he one of the six best in college football? Especially when players like Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Baylor's Bryce Petty were left off Heisman ballots? 

Thursday night would suggest not.