ORANGE BOWL LIVE BLOG: NIU vs. Florida State
Final: FSU 31, NIU 10
Plain and simple, the better team won tonight. NIU had a great season, and accomplished a ton in 2012. Unfortunately, on the first day of 2013, things didn't go the Huskies' way.
Florida State looked like a champion from one of the BCS conferences, and NIU, while it was the best of the non-AQ teams, didn't have enough to beat the Seminoles team with such a storied history.
The Huskies shouldn't hang their hats. This team will go down in history as the best NIU team ever.
End of the third quarter: FSU 17, NIU 10
Haven't we seen this movie before? Anyone channeling their memory back to the 2007 Fiesta Bowl between Oklahoma and Boise State?
So far, Northern Illinois has already called a quick kick, fake punt and onside kick.
The latest example of tricker was the onside kick recovered by Paris Logan, which came after an 11-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Lynch to Martel Moore.
However, Lynch made a bad decision after the kick was recovered, throwing a ball right at Florida State safety Terrence Brooks that was intercepted.
We'll see what else Carey has up his sleeve the rest of the contest. The 'Noles are driving, with the ball at the NIU 9-yard line. We'll see if the Huskies can get a big stop.
Halftime: FSU 14, NIU 3
Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel is 21 of 28 for 242 yards. Jordan Lynch is just 4 of 15 for 52 yards, and he isn't getting any help from his receivers.
Manuel also has all day to throw, while Lynch is taking a beating. On Manuel's 6-yard TD pass to Rashad Greene, where Greene made a great catch to stay in bounds, Manuel had a ton of time and was able to use his quickness to roll out and find his wideout.
It was a big play to make this a two-possession game. NIU hasn't been able to get anything going on offense. The Huskies have just 110 total yards compared to the Seminoles' 328.
Florida State gets the ball to start the third quarter. A touchdown could almost put this game away.
FSU 7, NIU 3, 8:05 left in the second quarter
The Huskies offense is struggling. Florida State is getting pressure, and NIU is having Jordan Lynch roll out to avoid it.
Lynch has struggled throwing the ball (2 of 11) and can't find anywhere to run. It's not surprising to see the Seminoles' defense give him problems.
NIU's offense needs to start something, get a drive going. The Huskies are 0 of 7 on third down.The trick plays will only get NIU so far.
End of the first quarter: FSU 7, NIU 3
Dave Doeren did a great job of utilizing the trick play this season. Rod Carey has taken a page out of his book.
So far, Carey has called a Jordan Lynch quick kick, a punt which landed inside the Seminoles 5-yard line. Then there was the fake punt, with Desroy Maxwell, a true freshman, running for 35 yards. That drive ended with a 25-yard field goal from Mathew Sims. Maxwell's run was the Huskies' third successful fake punt of the season.
It was big for NIU to find some momentum and get some points. NIU had gone 3-and-out on its first two drives.
NIU 0, FSU 0, 6:39 left in the first quarter
Well, I mentioned the importance of turnovers prior to the game, and NIU forced the first big one. Cornerback Rashaan Melvin forced a Nick O'Leary fumble, which was recovered by safety Demetrius Stone. The Huskies took over at the 34-yard line.
Big momentum change there as Florida State was putting together a nice drive. NIU went 3-and-out again, but Rod Carey pulled out the Jordan Lynch quick kick, and the punt landed at the FSU 5-yard line.
While you're watching the game, check out our Orange bowl photo gallery.
10 minutes until kickoff
In the Take 2, between myself and Daily Chronicle sports editor Ross Jacobson which ran in today's Daily Chronicle, I picked Florida State to beat NIU, 31-14. Jacobson picked the Seminoles to win, 30-21.
Now, I'm not saying the Huskies don't have a shot, I believe they can win. If NIU can have a turnover ratio of plus-2, I think they'll be in decent shape. To me, that's the most important aspect of today's game.
Some matchups to watch are NIU offensive tackle Matt Krempel against Seminoles All-American defensive end Bjoern Werner, Huskies corner Rashaan Melvin against Florida State's strong receiving core and 'Noles cornerback Xavier Rhodes against NIU receiver Martel Moore, who has had a great season (71 catches, 1,054 yards).
The wait is over, NIU's appearance in the Orange Bowl is finally here. Enjoy the game Huskie fans, and keep up with this live blog throughout the night.
50 minutes until kickoff
Just went down on the field for a little bit to walk around and just soak in the atmopshere. Check out our Twitter page (@HuskieWire) for some pictures from down there.
Walked over by the NIU section and let me just say this, the Huskie fans in attendance were fired up and extremely loud. Much louder than the Florida State contingent. Saw a lot of signs in the crowd, a number of them referencing ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit.
One note, kickoff has been moved back to 7:50 p.m. CST.
One hour and 45 minutes until kickoff
Northern Illinois has waited nearly a month for the Orange Bowl, and it's finally here. In two hours, NIU and Florida State will kick off. I'll be live-blogging from Sun Life Stadium all night.
I arrived in the press box roughly three hours before kickoff, and saw a ton of Seminoles fans tailgating in the parking lot outside the stadium, but a good amount of Huskies fans as well. Florida State should have the bigger section of fans, something that shouldn't surprise anyone.
Ever since it's been announced NIU was going to play in this game, the Huskies have had their share of critics. We'll see if they can pull off the upset.
I've been down in south Florida all week covering the build up to the game. Daily Chronicle sports editor Ross Jacobson arrived yesterday and has been helping out with our coverage as well. We'll have plenty of stuff from tonight's game on Huskiewire.com and in Wednesday's Daily Chronicle.
While you're waiting for the game to start, check out our Orange Bowl Central page, which has links to all of our coverage previewing the game.
— Steve Nitz, firstname.lastname@example.org, @SNitz_DDC on Twitter