Something is going to have to give in this matchup on New Year’s Day between NIU and Florida State.
The Seminoles enter this game with the No. 5 rushing defense in the nation, only surrendering 10 rushing touchdowns all season. They allow a mere 92.62 yards of rushing per game to opponents as well.
Junior defensive end Bjoern Werner, who has recorded 18 tackles for a loss this season for a nation-leading loss of 134 yards, leads a talented Florida State defensive line into the contest.
“Obviously we'll have to do a couple different things to keep Jordan [Lynch] safe back there, get the ball out of his hand, move the pocket around, that type of thing,” said NIU quarterbacks coach Bob Cole. “Like I said earlier, [FSU is an] extremely talented football team, extremely fast and physical, and we're going to have to play our best game going in there.”
Lynch is looking forward to taking on one of the top rushing defenses in the nation.
“Well upfront, their four guys are the best we’re going to face all year,” said quarterback Jordan Lynch. “Their middle linebackers, they flow heavy, they’re big run stopper guys. The corners are great and that sets up the run and they are going to be physical, coming down hill.”
On the other hand of the spectrum are the Huskies. They are No. 9 in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 250.15 yards on the ground. The Huskies have also scored the fourth most rushing touchdowns in the nation with 44.
Lynch leads the Huskies and is the nation’s No. 4 leading rusher, averaging 136.23 yards a game. Lynch has scored 19 touchdowns this season and is the nation’s leading rusher as a quarterback.
Of course, Florida State is more than aware of Lynch and how he makes the Huskies' offense click.
“One of the big parts of NIU’s offense is Jordan Lynch,” said Florida State linebacker Christian Jones. “He has great numbers this season and has helped his team win 12 games. We have to key in on stopping him and go from there.”
Florida State feels comfortable going up against Lynch, as players said they have experience in playing against mobile quarterbacks.
“We have gone up against a lot of guys who are mobile and can throw the ball,” Jones said. “It is not like this will be the first time seeing an athletic quarterback. With guys like that, you have to be disciplined – he can hurt us at any time and we have been preparing for that.”
Florida State is also looking forward to trying to do what no other team has been able to do yet this season: stop Lynch.
“We’ve played a lot of good quarterbacks this year,” said Florida State linebacker Vince Williams. “[We’ll prepare] just like you would prepare for anybody. I mean he runs the ball a lot, I don’t really think that is going to be too big of a problem. We’re gonna look forward to try and shut him down.”
It should be interesting to see which side of the ball has the advantage in the matchup come game day.