In the 2013 BCS Orange Bowl, we had the classic David vs. Goliath matchup. The prestigious Florida State football program was ready to show the world that it was ‘back’ among the elite teams in the nation while Northern Illinois wanted to prove to everyone that they deserved to be there. Many people felt the Seminoles might not bring their A game due to a lack of respect for their opponent and the bowl itself. After NIU QB, Jordan Lynch, made some questionable comments leading up to Tuesday’s bowl, there was certainly an extra buzz surrounding the game.
[Check out Lynch's ill-fated trash talking here]
With about one minute left in the first half, the game was a statistical anomaly. With only a 7-3 lead, Florida State had racked up over 300 yards of offense while, outside of a well-executed fake punt, Northern Illinois had struggled to even make a first down. Right before the half, fifth year senior EJ Manuel hit Rashad Greene, who made a spectacular catch in the back corner of the end zone to solidify the Noles lead. The game had the feel of a blowout, yet NIU only trailed by 11 at halftime.
On the opening drive of the 3rd quarter, the Noles drove down the field but only managed to get a field goal on the drive. On the next possession, it seemed as though NIU had found some life on offense. After capping off a drive with a touchdown, the Huskies caught the Seminoles napping (again) with a surprise onside kick. With momentum on their side, NIU drove into FSU territory, looking poised to tie the game. On a 3rd-and-8 at FSU’s 23 yard line, Jordan Lynch scrambled to the sideline and threw an ill-advised pass that was intercepted by cornerback Terrence Brooks.
From that point forward, the Seminole defense drowned the Huskies offense with its speed, power, and depth.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Manuel called his own number and sprtined to the goalline for a nine-yard touchdown. On their next possession, the Huskies attempted a reverse, but the Noles were waiting. Xavier Rhodes flew in, jarred the ball loose, and recovered it in NIU territory. Two plays later, Orange Bowl MVP Lonnie Pryor ran for a 37-yard touchdown, closing out the Huskies for good.
EJ Manuel completed his career at FSU as the second quarterback in NCAA history to win four straight bowl games. While the season began with aspirations of a BCS National Championship, Tuesday’s Orange Bowl victory was still sweet satisfaction for the team and fans. It was the Seminoles’ first BCS bowl win in 12 years. The game marks the return of FSU football to winning in the national spotlight and should springboard the program towards a successful 2013 campaign.
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