Florida State Seminoles: Tyrone Clark

NoleNation Q&A: Previewing FSU-NIU

December, 28, 2012
12/28/12
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Florida State has a chance to win its first Orange Bowl since 1996, and most fans are viewing this year's game as an easy victory for the Seminoles, who take on the BCS busters from Northern Illinois.

On paper, it's a clear mismatch. The Huskies -- champions of the Mid-American Conference -- only played two teams from an automatic-qualifier conference, losing to 4-8 Iowa and beating 1-11 Kansas. Florida State is bigger, faster and stronger. But in BCS bowls, the mid-majors have a history of successfully sneaking up on their more nationally known competition.

So, to see if Northern Illinois is capable of pulling off a surprise, we checked in with Huskies beat writer Steve Nitz of the DeKalb Daily Chronicle for some insight.

[+] EnlargeJordan Lynch
Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesJordan Lynch has combined for 43 touchdowns rushing and passing and will present a challenge for Florida State's defense.
NoleNation: We've heard plenty of talk about Jordan Lynch, and the numbers certainly speak for themselves -- 24 passing TDs, 19 rushing -- but FSU fans haven't seen a ton of him. What makes him so effective, and is his skill set one that could translate well against a bigger, more athletic defense like Florida State's?

Steve Nitz: Jordan Lynch is a great runner, and he's a threat to break off a long touchdown run every single time he touches the ball. However, he can throw effectively as well, something he may very well have to do against Florida State with how well the Seminoles stop the run. Florida State's defense will be the best unit he has seen all year, and I do think Lynch will be able to run the ball well. We'll just see how well his offensive line blocks for him.

NN: Obviously Lynch has been the focal point in the run up to the Orange Bowl, but how good is this NIU defense? Who are some players Florida State fans should be watching for?

Nitz: I've said it all season, this group has been very underrated. Lynch and the offense get a ton of credit, and deservedly so, but the Huskies' defense is leaps and bounds better than it was a year ago.

The Huskies can pressure the QB with players such as defensive ends Alan Baxter (9.5 sacks) and Sean Progar (8.5 sacks). I also think NIU is strong, although undersized, at the linebacker spot with Tyrone Clark (82 tackles) and Jamaal Bass (76 tackles) on the outside.

Cornerback Rashaan Melvin led the Mid-American Conference with 17 pass break-ups, and safety Jimmie Ward led the Huskies with 90 tackles.

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