It wasn’t so long ago that Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch was trying to get into the Heisman race.
He had similar numbers to eventual winner Johnny Manziel and his then-coach, Dave Doeren, even sent a letter to Heisman voters asking for their consideration. But the biggest knock on Lynch was the competition he had played. Until the Huskies defeated Kent State in the Mid-American Conference title game, they hadn’t beaten anyone of merit. And they lost to Iowa, one of the worst teams in the Big Ten.
But on Tuesday, Lynch finally had his chance to prove his mettle against Florida State, one of the best defenses in the country.
And he failed miserably.
The NIU offense amassed just 259 yards and Lynch completed a paltry 15 of 41 passes for 176 yards, a touchdown and a pick.
That subpar effort in a 31-10 defeat against the Seminoles prompted some criticism from senior linebacker Vince Williams.
"He's terrible," Williams said.
"What did he do that was good?" Williams continued to rail, his voice rising in pace, pitch and volume. "He didn't do nothing that was good, we were killing him."
While Williams’ comments might seem harsh, Lynch kind of had them coming.
During an interview with The Sporting News prior to the team leaving for Miami, Lynch made some choice comments about Florida State.
"We play an uptempo pace," Lynch told The Sporting News. "We play really fast, a lot of shifting, guys going back and forth each way. It causes a lot of confusion. As soon as we get that rhythm going, it's pretty hard to stop.
"We plan on wearing them down. In the fourth quarter, we plan to have them on their knees—and then just keep pounding away."
While Lynch was trying to show some confidence, all he did was motivate the already vaunted Florida State defense.
"It motivated us a lot," Williams said. "That was straight-up bulletin board material. First of all because of how much success our defense had. We've been really, really good and nobody's ever said anything like that to us. So we were like, 'this man must have lost his mind.'"
After the game, NIU coach Rod Carey said Lynch’s comments were taken out of context and Lynch acknowledged that Florida State was the best defense the Huskies had faced all season.
But the damage had already been done, and it will take awhile for nonautomatic qualifying teams to regain the respect Boise State, TCU and Utah worked hard to build.
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