No. 15 Northern Illinois Huskies (12-1 SU, 9-3-1 ATS) vs. No.12 Florida State Seminoles (11-2 SU, 4-9 ATS)
College Football Orange Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Tuesday January 1st, 2013. 8:30PM Eastern
Where: Sun Life Stadium Miami Gardens, F.L.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NIU +13.5/FSU -13.5
Over/Under Total: 58.5
The no. 15 Nothern Illinois Huskies crashed the BCS party in the final week of the season by defeating Kent State 44-37 in double overtime for the MAC Championship. The win vaulted the Huskies into the top 16 in the BCS standings to grab an automatic BCS Bowl berth. Now the Huskies have stirred a bit of good ole fashioned BCS controversy and are unwanted guest by some college football fans. The Huskies took a BCS opportunity away from some prestigious programs and many people claimed they do not want to see a mid-major school blown out in one of the biggest bowls in college football. However, Northern Illinois has a chance to prove all doubters wrong when they meet the no. 12 Florida State Seminoles in the Discover Orange Bowl on January 1st inside Sun Life Stadium.
The Noles will make the short trip down to Miami after a solid 11-2 season that was capped by an ACC Championship. The Seminoles now have the opportunity to capture 12 wins for the first time since 1999 under Bobby Bowden. Luckily for the Noles, they will be rather substantial 13.5 point favorites over Northern Illinois entering the Orange Bowl. In fact, more than 70% of the betting public is favoring the Seminoles to cover that spread. Not only does Florida State have a big advantage in terms of talent but the Seminoles defense has been outstanding under Jimbo Fisher this year. The Seminoles have held opponents to just 253 total yards per game this year which is 2nd to Alabama in college football. The defense is especially talented along the defensive line where DE Bjoern Werner racked up 13 sacks (2nd in FBS) on the year. The Noles defensive line should have the speed and size advantage to disrupt the Northern Illinois rushing attack.
Northern Illinois has one of the best rushing attacks in the country averaging 250 yards per game on the ground. The ground game is led by QB Jordan Lynch who has posted ridiculous numbers this year. Lynch has thrown for 2,962 yards by completing 62.9% passing for 24 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions. However, the junior quarterback has done even more damage on the ground rushing for an NCAA leading 1,771 yards and additional 19 touchdowns. Lynch has in many ways single handedly led the Huskies to 12 straight wins following their season opening loss to Iowa. Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops was hired to the head coaching job at Lexington following the season so it will be interesting to see if the Seminoles have a strong game plan intact to stop the Huskies number 1 playmaker in Jordan Lynch.
On the other side of the ball, Florida State should have an even bigger advantage. Northern Illinois has posted rather average numbers holding teams to just 356 yards per game this season but that has been with nearly a full slate of games from the rather weak MAC. The Seminoles have not necessarily played the most difficult schedule in the dwindling ACC but needless to say have played some solid defenses while managing to post stellar numbers. Florida State has averaged 466 total yards (23rd in FBS) and 203 rushing yards (25th in FBS) per game. Those numbers have resulted in an average of nearly 40 points per game on the year.
The Seminoles offense is highlighted with playmakers starting under center with QB E.J Manuel. Manuel is a big guy that is tough to bring down and can keep plays alive with his legs. Manuel has completed 68% passing this year for 3,101 yards with 22 touchdowns and 10 picks. The Seminoles have several talented receivers to help Manuel in the passing game and it will be interesting to see if Northern Illinois’ defense can disrupt the passing game. Of course Florida State still runs the ball extremely well with Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr who have combined for 19 touchdowns on the ground this year. It seems that Florida State’s balance will present some difficult challenges for the Huskies’ defense but only time will tell.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Sorry but I am one of those that believe Northern Illinois is not worthy of their Orange Bowl bid and believe many will see why against the Seminoles. Take Florida State -13.5
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