MIAMI — Northern Illinois offensive tackle Matt Krempel, a Columbus North High School grad, said his team wanted to prove it belonged in a BCS Bowl game.
At deadline on Tuesday, Northern Illinois was trailing Florida 24-10 early in the fourth quarter of the Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. FSU quarterback EJ Manuel ran nine yards for a touchdown to give his team some breathing room on the first play of the fourth quarter.
With the heavily-favored Seminoles holding on for dear life, it was obvious that the Huskies at least had earned some respect as the first Mid-American Conference team to earn a BCS Bowl berth.
Northern Illinois, which came into the game 12-1, actually was driving for the tying touchdown with six minutes remaining in the third quarter when quarterback Jordan Lynch threw an interception that helped Florida State stay on top.
The Huskies were building some momentum in the third quarter after a miserable first half in which they recorded only three first downs, one on a 35-yard run on a fake punt by Desroy Maxwell.
Lynch, the nation’s leading rusher as a quarterback, couldn’t get untracked, either, rushing or throwing the ball in the first half. He rushed 13 times for only 24 yards with his longest run, a six-yard effort. He was even worse throwing the ball a 4 for 15 effort for 52 yards.
Florida State had a 324-111 advantage in total yards at the half, and when Florida State place-kicker Dustin Hopkins became the all-time leader for most field goals in a career with a 25-yard boot in the third quarter for a 17-3 lead, it appeared the rout might be on.
Lynch finally rallied the offense with a touchdown pass to Martel Moore to cut the FSU lead to 17-10.