MIAMI (AP) — Northern Illinois started the night as a BCS-buster.
The Huskies went home a BCS bust.
A dismal first half put Northern Illinois in a hole, and two second-half turnovers proved costly as Florida State topped the Huskies 31-10 in the Discover Orange Bowl on Tuesday night — hardly the ending that the Mid-American Conference champions were seeking in their first trip to the Bowl Championship Series.
The final numbers were far from pretty for the Huskies (12-2), whose 12-game winning streak was snapped after they were outgained 534-259. They converted five of their 18 third-down opportunities and were on the wrong end of a 23-17 disparity in first downs.
And standout quarterback Jordan Lynch, who finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy balloting, struggled for long stretches. His streak of 11 consecutive 100-yard rushing games ended, after he managed only 44 yards on 23 carries. He completed 15 of 41 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown — one that got the Huskies within 17-10 early in the third quarter.
It was the last Huskie hurrah.
After a successfully executed onside kick, Lynch had Northern Illinois headed toward the end zone on the ensuing possession. But Lynch tried forcing a pass down the right sideline and was intercepted by Terrence Brooks inside the Seminoles’ 20 to thwart that drive. And after Da’Ron Brown fumbled the ball away early in the fourth, Lonnie Pryor had his second long touchdown run of the game to all but seal the win for Florida State (12-2).
EJ Manuel completed 26 of 38 passes for 291 yards in his farewell for Florida State, which won 12 games for the first time since the Seminoles’ unbeaten 1999 season. Pryor ran for 130 yards on only four carries — with touchdown runs of 60 and 37 yards, both of which were longer than any carry Northern Illinois yielded all season.
The Huskies ran 73 plays, and Lynch either threw a pass or carried the ball on 64 of them. But after coming into the Orange Bowl with an average of just over 367 yards of total offense per game, Lynch just kept getting hit — and hit — by a defensive front that enjoyed a massive size advantage over the MAC champions.
So let the second-guessing begin over whether or not Northern Illinois belonged in the BCS. On the night they were announced as being Orange Bowl-bound last month, and upon hearing the reaction of some commentators who called their qualification for one of college football’s big-money games as a joke, several Huskies reacted by tossing oranges at the television.
Those they-didn’t-belong opinions won’t change much now.
The outcome became academic with 4:47 left, when on fourth-and-13 Lynch dropped back and tried to run away from a Florida State blitz. He didn’t have a chance, as linebacker Nick Moody ran him down for ease and recorded a sack.
By then, the Seminole sideline was already celebrating. Lynch simply got up and trotted to the Northern Illinois side, where several players stood in silence, some with hands on their hips, as the stadium continued emptying out and even the most ardent fans who endured a 30-hour bus trip from Illinois to watch the game watched in disbelief.
On a cold night in DeKalb, Ill. — 9 degrees at kickoff — the Huskies faced a cold reality in Miami.
Northern Illinois had some moments. Lynch completed a 55-yard pass to Akeem Daniels on the drive that he capped with an 11-yard toss to Martel Moore with 9:55 left in the third, a score that got the Huskies within seven.
And a 35-yard run by Desroy Maxwell in the first quarter set up a field goal.
Thing is, highlights like that were too few and far between for the Huskies.
Lynch eclipsed the 3,000-yard passing mark for the season in the second quarter, making him the first player in NCAA history to throw for that many yards and rush for at least 1,500 more in the same campaign.
It was about the only highlight for Lynch in the opening 30 minutes.
The Huskies ran 30 plays in the first half, and Lynch had the ball for 28 of them — 15 passes, 12 rushes, one kneel-down to end the half, and extremely little success. Lynch was 4 for 15 passing for 52 yards, and had 24 rushing yards on 12 carries when the game went to the intermission.
The second half was better. Just not good enough.
MIAMI (AP) — Northern Illinois started the night as a BCS-buster.
- Local Sports
Nolin settling in as new VSU soccer coach
Meet Rebecca Nolin, VSU's new soccer coach.
Induction Crowd: Honorees were genuine, down to earth
More than 48,000 people gathered under the scorching sun at The Clark Sports Center for the 75th National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Sunday, including one woman who carpooled to the event with more than 40 other people.
Braves trio all business at inductions
The Braves seemed almost businesslike in their approach -- something you might expect from a trio that won so consistently.
Managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa also remained calm and collected throughout their addresses.
Frank Thomas took care of the emotional side, his voice breaking and his eyes moist during a heartfelt speech Sunday at the Clark Sports Center.
Cooperstown Merchants: Weekend was a success
Cooperstown merchants are elated about the exceptionally prosperous Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, several storekeepers said Sunday.
During an afternoon lull in business, when the National Baseball Hall of Fame's induction ceremony was taking place, area shop and restaurant owners took a quick breath, reflected and expressed satisfaction with their sales for the weekend.
Hall of Famers thank fathers for stepping up to the plate
Great ballplayers thanking their dads at a Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is about as original as oil and vinegar are to an Italian restaurant.
Hall of Braves
The weird part was that Jeff Idelson didn't take a lot of time to answer.
"Is there any word or description that unifies this class?" was the query posed to the National Baseball Hall of Fame's president.
"The common thread among the six is profound humility," Idelson said of former managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, and former players Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, all of whom will be inducted into the Hall today. "I don't think I realized that fully until I spent time with them in December. It was uncanny to me, for the cumulative star power in that group, the humility among them. I think that's felt really strongly with baseball fans."
Cox’s willingness to defend players stands out to local coaches
Bobby Cox will be able to add Hall of Famer to his resume when he is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame today in Cooperstown, N.Y.
But the former Atlanta Braves manager’s legacy will remain the same to area baseball coaches: his willingness to defend his players.
Area teams hoping to get over the hump
Past successes lead to present and future expectations.
That’s the task faced by pretty much all 12 area high school football coaches present Saturday at In The Game Magazine’s South Georgia Football media day at the Holiday Inn conference center.
It’s a task that also has the elite group searching for answers as to how to get past the state championship road block in recent years, aside from Valwood’s GISA Class AA crown in 2012.
- Valdosta hosts fundamental camp for ‘Little ’Cats’
Getting Back to Work
Friday officially began the 2014 season for the Valdosta Wildcats and both the offense and defense came out and made statements.
After holding spring and summer workouts, the Wildcats will practice four more times without pads before beginning full pad practice next week.
- More Local Sports Headlines
- Nolin settling in as new VSU soccer coach