Florida State recognizes NIU as formidable opponent

By Brian Earle

Ever since the day NIU was selected to the Orange Bowl, it has been getting bashed by media pundits who say it doesn’t belong and has no chance in the game.

With that said, the Florida State offense should pummel the NIU defense, right? But with this being the prestigious Orange Bowl, isn’t the Seminoles’ opponent supposed to be a powerhouse school from one of the top-conferences in the NCAA?

While that is the talk buzzing around the media, Florida State has more than enough to play for and is more than motivated.

“You know, you’re playing in a BCS Bowl game,” said Florida State offensive coordinator James Coley. “This is the first time we’ve been here together as a team in a long time. It’s a great setting, great environment.”

Florida State is also not taking the Huskies’ defense lightly, as it realizes the players earned their way to the Orange Bowl.

“…The players, they’re not looking at their helmets, they’re looking at how plays are going to be successful versus what they do; you know what I mean,” Coley said. “They don’t care about the uniforms or anything like that; they’re watching how good they are because they got here. I think our guys realize that, and our guys, there’s a lot of respect towards what they’ve done this year, and I don’t think a motivation at all is going to be an issue.”

The Seminoles’ players are planning on preparing hard for the Huskies’ defense, just like they would any other team.

“No, we practice hard,” said Florida State running back Devonta Freeman. “Coach Jimbo [Fisher] always preached to us that it doesn’t matter who we play; just go out there and play like it is your last game. So I know we are practicing at a high level like we were playing in the national championship against a great team.”

Freeman doesn’t concern himself with what the media has said and he believes the Huskies have earned their right to play in the Orange Bowl.

“I was kind of happy for their program that they actually got a chance to be in a BCS bowl game,” Freeman said. “It was kind of shocking because I thought we would be playing Louisville instead of them. But I definitely don’t take them for granted or look at them down in any type of way because they practice hard; just like we practice.

“I think they deserve to be here. They got here on their God-given ability. The media is going to say a lot of stuff, but they deserve it. I think it is a great chance for them to show that they can play a great game against us.”

While Florida State doesn’t let the media affect its outlook on the game, NIU does not as well.

“I laugh at it,” said NIU safety Jimmie Ward. “Our motto is ‘the hard way’ so every day we work, we work the hard way. We’re going to let people think what they want to think until Jan. 1. This is a great opportunity for us to show off what we can do. I’m proud to be a Huskie. I think my team can play with anybody, we just have to prove it.”