NORTHERN ILLINOIS HUSKIES (12-1)
vs. FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (11-2)
Orange Bowl - Miami, FL
Kickoff: Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Florida State -13, Total: 58
Heavy underdog No. 15 Northern Illinois carries a long winning streak down to Miami to take on No. 12 Florida State in Tuesday's Orange Bowl.
Northern Illinois enters this game with a 12-game win streak (8-4 ATS), whereas Florida State is 11-2 SU for the year, but just 4-9 ATS. The Huskies, who have crushed their past two bowl opponents by a combined score of 78 to 37, will face a 'Noles team with a four-game bowl win streak, but three straight losses in the Orange Bowl (2001, 2004 and 2006). NIU is led by dynamic dual-threat QB Jordan Lynch (43 total TD) whose 364 total YPG rank 3rd in the nation. FSU also has a strong signal caller in EJ Manuel (261 total YPG), but its defense is excellent, allowing 254 total YPG (2nd in FBS) and 15.1 PPG (7th in nation).
Will Florida State be able to win and cover the monster spread? For the answer, download your FREE copy of the StatFox Edge College Bowl Guide for all the StatFox Experts picks for each of the 35 bowls, both Against The Spread and Over/Under.
Northern Illinois is 21-1 in its past 22 games spanning two seasons, so it gives no apologies for becoming the first MAC school to earn a BCS bowl berth. And the Huskies can also take comfort that non-BCS schools are 5-2 all-time in these marquee bowl games. QB Jordan Lynch is a truly incredible player with 2,962 yards and 24 TD through the air and 1,771 yards (NCAA record for QB) and 19 TD on the ground. Lynch has rushed for at least 100 yards in 11 straight games, and is the biggest reason his team scores 38.2 PPG and gains nearly 500 total yards of offense (486 YPG). Senior WR Martel Moore remains Lynch's favorite target, catching 71 passes for 1,054 yards and 12 TD this year. Junior RB Akeem Daniels also makes this offense go, especially in the past two games where he's rushed for 240 yards and five scores. The defense isn't too shabby either, allowing just 19.0 PPG and 139 rushing YPG on 3.3 yards per carry this season.
Florida State still has a lot to prove, as it barely beat 15.5-point underdog Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship by six points, needing an interception in the game's final minute to secure the victory. The 'Noles are certainly capable of putting up points, averaging 39.9 PPG thanks to seven 40-point efforts this year. QB EJ Manuel has been consistently good all season, throwing for 3,101 yards and 22 TD, while adding another 284 yards on the ground. He also has three running backs with more than 550 rushing yards, led by James Wilder Jr.'s 583 yards and 11 touchdowns. Wilder was named MVP of the ACC Championship after rushing for 69 yards and 2 TD on just 10 carries. Florida State's defense has been fierce, but it will no longer be led by defensive coordinator Mike Stoops who took the head coaching job at Kentucky. FSU continues to be anchored by DE Bjoern Werner (13 sacks, 18 TFL).