In a classic showcase of David v. Goliath, a stunningly good Northern Illinois team that finished the regular season a school record 12-1 on the year and No. 15 in the nation takes on a No. 12 Florida State squad that ended 11-2 and winners of the ACC Championship for the first time since 2005 in the 2013 Discover Orange Bowl, held Jan. 1 in Miami, Florida.
Tickets for the contest – referred to as “the biggest game NIU has been in because it’s on the biggest stage” by new Huskies head coach Rod Carey (incumbent head coach Dave Doeren left the program earlier this month to take over as head coach for North Carolina State) – currently rank as the least expensive of the five BCS bowl games to be played in January, with average price of Orange Bowl tickets hovering around $140 – 48% higher than the $94 a head asked to attend last year’s match up between the Clemson Tigers and West Virginia Mountaineers, but 13% less than the average $160 demanded for 2011’s showdown between Stanford and Virginia Tech.
Like all of the other BCS bowls currently slated to be played in January, the 2013 Orange Bowl has seen ticket prices as a whole decline over the last week or so – some six percent, to be exact – but should begin to see things level out as Northern Illinois faithful make last-minute plans post-Christmas to see their team play in the inviting warm weather of South Florida.
Look for Northern Illinois – the only program in the country to win 21 of its past 22 games, that joins the University of Oregon as one of the only two schools in the nation to have posted three-straight 11-win seasons in as many years and the first Mid-American Conference program ever to earn a BCS Bowl berth - to more or less live-or-die by the play of quarterback Jordan Lynch, a 6-0, 216 pound junior from Chicago, Illinois who heads up the No. 9 scoring offense in the country and currently leads the country in rushing yards (1,771) and total yards of combined offense (4,733 yards).
Senior wideout Martel Moore (71 receptions for 1,054 yards and 12 touchdowns) should provide Lynch’s main target when passing the ball, while junior tailback Akeem Daniels, who finished out the 2012 regular season with 240 yards and five touchdowns on 29 carries in wins over Eastern Michigan and Kent State, ought to provide a potent threat running the ball.
Florida State’s defense, however, may prove too much for Northern Illinois to overcome, with the Seminoles, led by former defensive coordinator and new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats, Mark Stoops, ranked second in the FBS with 253.4 total yards allowed per game and seventh in overall scoring defense (15.1 points a game).
Head coach Jimbo Fisher’s offense looks to prove lethal as well to a Huskies’ defensive squad ranked 18th in the nation with 19.0 points allowed per game, with senior E.J. Manuel having this year set career highs for passing (3,101 yards), touchdowns (22) and rushing yards (284) and sophomore tailback James Wilder Jr. one of three Florida State tailback to have rushed for at least 550 yards for the year.
FSU is making its seventh-ever BCS bowl appearance this year and its first since a 26-23 triple-overtime loss to Penn State in the Orange Bowl back in 2005.