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Game Day; What Others Are Saying About NIU in the Orange Bowl

... and why one college football prognosticator is picking them to win.

FROM BLEACHER REPORT:

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.

FROM THE SPORTING NEWS 'THE LINEMAKERS'

Northern Illinois doesn't belong in this game, but the Huskies plus the points is still the side to take. Our rating on Florida State has been inflated all season. They haven't met the expectations, with a paltry 3-9 record ATS. In two of those games - vs. Florida and at N.C. State - they lost outright.

NIU's motivation will be higher than FSU's for this game. Non-BCS conferences are 5-2 in BCS games, and part of their incentive stems from hearing for four weeks how they don't belong. These smaller conferences can score some points and move the ball.

If Florida State comes in with the lazy attitude it displayed against Florida and N.C. State, or even in their season finale against Georgia Tech, they might end up losing straight up. The value here is with the points.

FROM 'USA TODAY'

The most controversial pairing of the BCS lineup concludes the first day of 2013. The Huskies and their fans have heard the voices of the naysayers, some of whom have big audiences, decrying the system that earned them this opportunity on the big stage at the expense of higher-ranked candidates from power conferences. So they'll have every incentive to play with high energy. The Seminoles, in something of a Catch-22 without the chance to face an opponent with more of a historical pedigree, must still find a way to match NIU's intensity. The Huskies' big season was keyed by QB Jordan Lynch, who produced 43 TDs, 19 by land, and finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting. WRs Martel Moore and Tommylee Lewis are his primary aerial threats, and when he does hand off, it usually goes to TB Akeem Daniels. The season-ending knee injury to DE Tank Carradine will hamper the Seminoles' efforts to contain Lynch, but DE Bjoern Werner and CB Xavier Rhodes will pose a challenge for the Huskies. FSU QB EJ Manuel hasn't been sharp in his most recent outings, but the TB rotation of James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman will look to take charge. NIU will need DEs Sean Progar and Alan Baxter to hold up along the front line.

FROM CBS SPORTS:

Jan. 1, Northern Illinois vs. Florida State (-13, cover) -- NIU is not up to the standard of its predecessors in the BCS and should get run off the field by the much more talented Seminoles. But, this is Florida State we're talking about, so you never know. Huskies' QB Jordan Lynch is the best signal caller you've never heard of, but he's about the only guy they have that would play for FSU.

FROM YAHOO SPORTS:

Welcome to the Kirk Herbstreit Bowl. The ESPN analyst made plenty of people in DeKalb mad when he railed against the Huskies getting in a BCS bowl. Cinderellas aren't as welcomed in college football as they are in college basketball. Yet, Northern Illinois can a household name by winning this game. Much like Boise State shocking Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl six years ago, a victory against Florida State would be remembered for a long time. Florida State can't be too excited to be in this game against a MAC opponent, but it is the better team. The motivation angle is a major one in this game.

Predictions
Frank Schwab: Florida State 27, Northern Illinois 20:

The Northern Illinois story is one of the best in college football this year, but it's asking a lot to beat Florida State and that great defense. I do think Northern Illinois keeps it close and gains a measure of respect by playing Florida State a lot closer than some folks are expecting.

Graham Watson: Northern Illinois 31, Florida State 24

OK, so I'm going to go out on a limb here and give Northern Illinois the win because no one else is going to. Why? Well, because I was at the Utah-Alabama Sugar Bowl and I've seen many non-AQ teams rise up in the face of adversity. Is NIU the better team? No. But that doesn't mean it can't be the better team for one day. NIU pulls off the huge upset.

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