Ross Jacobson: Steve, the Orange Bowl has finally arrived. It seems like an eternity ago that we were in Detroit watching Northern Illinois come away with a double-overtime win over Kent State for its second consecutive Mid-American Conference Championship. In reality, it’s been exactly one month. Do you think the long layoff benefits one team more than the other? I would lean toward NIU only because of the coaching change.
Steve Nitz: I think people make too big of a deal out of stuff like this. I guess if I had to say, it benefits NIU because of the whole transition.
But let’s be honest, in the end, talent and coaching play out. When whoever wins, it will be because of talent and coaching. Once the game starts, the big break between games won’t really matter.
Jacobson: Fair enough. Both teams may be a bit rusty at the start, but again it’s a level playing field.
Everyone knows that as Jordan Lynch goes, NIU goes. He struggled against Iowa in the Huskies’ only loss of the year. But there are certainly a number of other players to watch. What is an in-game matchup that may not be getting a lot of publicity, but could have a large impact tonight?
Nitz: That’s easy. NIU right tackle Matt Krempel against Florida State All-American defensive end Bjoern Werner. Krempel split time at right tackle with Ryan Brown the first 11 games of the season. When left tackle Tyler Loos suffered a leg injury in the Toledo game, Brown moved to the left side with Krempel taking his place.
It’ll be interesting to see how Krempel handles a guy like Werner.
Jacobson: OK, enough beating around the bush. It’s prediction time. Steve, your record this year has been sparkling, correctly picking the winner for every NIU game this season on the HuskieWire live blog.
Who you got and by what score?
Nitz: You know, I’ve gone back and forth on this for a while. Florida State is obviously the better team, but the Huskies could very well be more motivated. I mean, in reality this is a bigger game for NIU, right? People also rip the Mid-American Conference, but let’s not act like the Atlantic Coast Conference is loaded.
The thing is, NIU wasn’t very impressive in its two contests against BCS teams, losing to a 4-8 Iowa team and barely beating a Kansas team that won one game. Knowing that, I just can’t pick the Huskies. I’m going with Florida State 31, NIU 14.
Ross, what’s your prediction? Are you going chalk or taking the upset?
Jacobson: We’ve taken the chalk in every game this season, and we’ve been correct. No reason to stop now ...
I don’t think this game will be the blowout that many people predict. Florida State has a tendency to shoot itself in the foot with untimely turnovers. It’s been a heck of a season for the Huskies, but I think it ends the same way it started, with a loss.
Florida State 30, NIU 21.