Plenty of Challenges, but NIU Ready to Take Them On
Byline: Tim Sassone firstname.lastname@example.org
Northern Illinois will face a multitude of challenges from Florida State in the Orange Bowl on Tuesday night, starting with figuring out a way to score on a defense that ranks in the top 10 in five statistical categories including points allowed (15.8).
"They're good," NIU coach Rod Carey said. "They're just really good. They're long. They're athletic. They're sound in what they do: long, athletic, good, well-coached, play hard, do all of those things you expect an (Atlantic Coast Conference) champion to do.
"It's a good challenge, but I'm looking forward to the challenge and I know our players are, too."
The Huskies feel they need to start fast against the Seminoles.
"That's one thing we always talk about -- starting fast," quarterback Jordan Lynch said. "We're practicing right now; we usually script the first 10 plays, so we're comfortable with what we do. I think that will be key, to start off with a fast pace and get us going."
Turnovers also will help decide the game, according to Carey.
"You have to create turnovers, like in any big game," Carey said. "We need to play well. We have to take care of the ball. We have to be able to run the ball, and we have to be able to stop the run. That's as old as football is.
"When you look at the matchups of the BCS teams vs. to non-BCS teams, you look at the run games on both sides of the ball. Whatever team can establish the run and whatever team can stop the run, usually that leads to turnovers. That leads to points and, all of a sudden, that eventually leads to the outcome."
"The keys are going to be up front on both sides," Carey added. "I've heard it the numbers. Someone said their O-line outweighs our D-line and all that stuff. …