The 2013 Discover Orange Bowl features a very intriguing match-up of top-25 teams with the upstart and 15th ranked Northern Illinois Huskies (12-1) out of the Mid-American Conference taking on the ACC-Champion and 12th ranked Florida State Seminoles (11-2) at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL at 8:30pm ET on New Year’s Day. NIU is the first MAC team to play in a BCS bowl game, and the Huskies are no fluke having compiled a 9-2-2 record ATS this season with their only outright loss by a score of 18-17 in their season opener against Iowa. FSU is 3-9 ATS this season and the Seminoles have failed to cover their last 4 games including a narrower-than-expected 21-15 win over Georgia Tech as a 15.5 point favorite in the ACC Championship Game.
The Northern Illinois offense ranks among the most explosive in all of college football with dual-threat quarterback Jordan Lynch (2,962 yards passing; 1,771 yards rushing) leading the way as one of the most dynamic players in the nation. NIU ranks 9th among FBS teams in scoring offense with 40.8 points per game and 14th among FBS teams in total offense with 485.8 yards per game. Their version of the spread offense is predicated on running the ball, primarily with Lynch, to the tune of 250.2 YPG (9th in the nation), The NIU defense has been solid as well, ranking 18th nationally in scoring defense with 19 PPG allowed and 34th in the country in total defense with 356.8 YPG allowed.
The Florida State offense is a balanced attack that has been spurred by the development of quarterback E.J. Manuel (3,101 yards passing, 22 TDs, 10 INTs) and now ranks among the nation’s best in scoring with 39.9 PPG scored (13th best among FBS teams) and total offense with 466 YPG (23rd among FBS teams). FSU features a defense that ranks in the top 10 in all major categories including: points allowed with 15.1 per game (6th), total defense with 253.4 YPG (2nd), pass defense with 160.8 YPG allowed (3rd) and run defense with 92.6 YPG allowed (5th). The Seminoles are led by All-American defensive end Bjoern Werner (13 sacks, 18 tackles for loss).
Northern Illinois vs. Florida State Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Northern Illinois Huskies +13
@ Florida State Seminoles -13
Over 58.5 (-110)
Under 58.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Northern Illinois vs. Florida State Pick:
Northern Illinois is 7-1-2 ATS in their last 10 games overall, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games against ACC teams and 3-1-1- ATS in their last 5 non-conference games. . The Seminoles are 7-0-1 AST in their last 8 bowl games, 10-2-1 ATS in their last 13 neutral site games but 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games overall. The under is 9-2 in NIU’s last 11 neutral site games, 4-1 in their last 5 bowl games and 10-4 in their last 14 games on grass. The over is 5-0 I FSU’s last 5 games overall, 3-1-1 in their last 5 games on grass and 3-1-1 in their last 5 games following an ATS loss.
Offensive coordinator Rod Carey will be the acting head coach for NIU after Dave Doeren left to take the job at NC State, and he will lead a squad that has the ability to keep this game closer than most people think with an explosive offense and a better-than-advertised defense. Florida State has a strong defense, but they will be without coordinator Mark Stoops who left to take the top job at Kentucky; and they have to contend with Lynch, who led the nation in total yards with 4,733. Their lackluster play in the ACC Championship Game combined with the loss of Stoops will not help an FSU team that is facing an unfamiliar team that has been widely criticized as over-matched in this game. NIU will keep this game closer than 2 touchdowns, take the Huskies at +13 or better in this game.
PICK = Northern Illinois +13.