While looking at the final score of the Orange Bowl between NIU and Florida State, one would assume the Seminoles proved the Huskies didn’t belong on one of the biggest stages in college football.
However, the Huskies may have had more to do with that than Florida State did. The Huskies did not look like themselves and while that may have had to do with a more quality opponent in Florida State, the Huskies ultimately beat themselves.
The story of the game for NIU was missed opportunity after missed opportunity.
On the first drive for Florida State, senior defensive back Raashan Melvin forced a fumble from tight end Nick O’Leary, which was recovered by senior defensive back Demetrius Stone.
Earlier in the week, coach Rod Carey talked about how important it was would be to get turnovers early and to capitalize on them.
“If we get one [turnover] and we score off it, it would be a pretty good feeling,” Carey said. “If we give up one and they get a score off it, that would be a pretty bad feeling.”
The Huskies were not able to capitalize on that earlier opportunity and went three and out on that possession following the takeaway.
Another issue was the play of junior quarterback Jordan Lynch and senior wide receiver Martel Moore. There were multiple times throughout the course of the game where Moore was wide open and Lynch missed him or Moore was wide open and was not able to hold onto the ball.
Despite their play, Moore said he and Lynch were on the same page during the game.
Another aspect of the game was the defense’s ability to get the Seminoles off the field. On third down, the Huskies held Florida State to just 3 of 14.
By getting the Seminoles off the field so often, the Huskies had a plethora of opportunities for their electric offense to put some points on the board.
After the Huskies scored their first touchdown of the game, making the score 17-10, they were able to recover an onside kick. At this point, the Huskies had all the momentum and looked as if they would tie up the game.
Facing a third and eight, Lynch was flushed out of the pocket by the Seminoles’ defense, resulting in an interception by defensive back Terrence Brooks.
This was a big turnover in the game, but Carey doesn’t look at it that way.
“That turnover, yeah, but then after that we had other opportunities,” Carey said. “That wasn’t the defining moment. But we certainly missed opportunities.”
While the Huskies did make some big plays in this game, like the onside kick and Moore’s 11-yard touchdown reception from Lynch in the third quarter, they needed to make more.
“We made some big plays, too, and we didn’t make enough of them,” Carey said. “That was the hard part.”