Since NIU got selected to play in the Orange Bowl against Florida State on New Year’s Day, the media has been interested in bashing the Huskies and the BCS system for allowing them to get in.
No one has taken the time to focus on the game itself and the matchup between the two teams. While the No. 15 ranked Huskies (12-1) find themselves in unknown territory, playing in a BCS Bowl game for the first time in school and MAC history, this is nothing new to the prestigious No. 12 ranked Seminoles (11-2) program.
Florida State will make its ninth trip in school history to the Orange Bowl. The Seminoles defeated Georgia Tech 21-15 to secure their second ACC Championship.
In the Orange Bowl, the Seminoles have an overall record of 3-5; this will be their first appearance since 2006.
The Seminoles come into this game featuring one of the top defenses in the nation. Their pass defense is top three in the nation. On the season, they have surrendered 2,090 passing yards and just 12 touchdowns, while intercepting 10 passes.
Sophomore defensive back Tyler Hunter and junior defensive back Xavier Rhodes both have three interceptions on the season.
While Florida State’s pass defense is one to be reckoned with, its rush defense is just as strong. Florida State’s run defense is top five in the nation as it has only surrendered 1,209 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns on the season.
The Seminoles have two strong defensive ends in senior defensive end Cornellius Carradine and junior Bjoern Werner. Carradine is second on the team in tackles, sacks and tackles for a loss with 80, 11 and 13, respectively.
Werner leads Florida State with 13 sacks as well as tackles for a loss with 18, while recording 40 tackles.
Offensively, the Seminoles are led by their senior quarterback, EJ Manuel, who is primarily a passing quarterback. He threw for 3,101 yards and 22 touchdowns on the season. Manuel’s favorite target is sophomore wide receiver Rashad Greene, who leads the team in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, with 52, 696 and five, respectively.
In the backfield, the Seminoles feature a trio of running backs led by sophomore James Wilder Jr., who leads the team with 11 touchdowns. Senior Chris Thompson leads the Seminoles in rushing yards with 687 yards, averaging 85.9 yards per game.
The key to this game will come down to how NIU junior quarterback Jordan Lynch handles what will probably be the best defense he has ever faced in college football.