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2013 Orange Bowl: NIU Huskies vs. Florida St. Seminoles Free Gambling Prediction & Preview

Huskies vs Seminoles NCAA Football Spread/Handicapping

This year’s Orange Bowl is certain to be a fascinating game because it features our resident BCS-buster for 2012, with the Northern Illinois Huskies.

Discover Orange Bowl
Northern Illinois Huskies (12-1) vs. Florida State Seminoles (11-2)
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, 8:30 pm EST
Sun Life Stadium, Miami FL
Betting Information Courtesy of WagerWeb
N. Illinois +400, FSU -500
N. Illinois +13.5, FSU -13.5
Over/Under: 58.5

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The MAC team rode an incredible season to a one-loss record, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t many college football fans out there that felt the Huskies don’t belong in a BCS game.

Northern Illinois finished the season ranked 15th in the Associated Press poll. The Huskies reached these heights thanks to a phenomenal dual-threat season from QB Jordan Lynch; the Chicago native had nearly 3,000 yards passing and a 24-5 TD/INT ratio to go along with a mind-expanding 1,771 rushing yards and 19 TDs. If Lynch played in the SEC or the Big 12, he would’ve been a surefire Heisman Trophy candidate.

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The Huskies were unbeaten in conference play and rank in the Top 25 nationally in rushing yards (ninth, 250.2 per game); points for (ninth, 40.8 per) and points against (18th, 19.0 per game). In short, although Northern Illinois plays in the inferior MAC conference, head coach Dave Doeren – who rode this success to a promotion with the NC State job – has motivated his players to a season for the ages.

Yet, the Huskies don’t often take the field against an opponent of Florida State’s caliber. The Seminoles were bona fide National Title contenders to start the season, and had to persevere through a season-ending injury to starting RB Chris Thompson. Regardless, the ’Noles have used gnarly defense and a veteran offensive leader in QB E.J. Manuel to garner an ACC title and a #12 ranking. Florida State has depth and athleticism that the Huskies haven’t encountered this season, even in their narrow one-point loss to Iowa to open the season. [soliloquy id=”82219″]

The ’Noles also had a narrow defeat, on Oct. 6 at Doeren’s new team, the NC State Wolfpack. That disappointment in Tallahassee really derailed a season that could have been flawless. Granted, FSU came up short against bitter rival Florida, but who knows how that game would have turned out had the ’Noles remained unblemished.

In order to pull the upset, the Huskies must summon enough fury on the defensive side of the ball to thwart Manuel, RB Devonta Freeman and beastly sophomore RB James Wilder Jr. Wide receiver Rashad Greene is also a genuine threat when Manuel is airing the ball out. Conversely, when Lynch is under center, he must contend with the demonic pass-rush duo of Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine. Best case scenario, it will be an extremely difficult task. In a worst-case scenario, the beating will justify why the BCS system is being revamped starting next year.

I expect Lynch to make some heads turn in Miami on New Year’s Day, even against a stacked FSU squad. However, I think the Seminoles are just too well-rounded for Northern Illinois to steal a victory. Florida State’s speed should expose a Huskies “D” that, while effective, is still fundamentally a MAC defense.

Score Prediction: Florida State 38, Northern Illinois 16

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