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2013 Poinsettia Bowl: Getting to know Northern Illinois

To get to know Northern Illinois better leading up to the Poinsettia Bowl against Utah State, we reached out to the MAC-centric site Hustle Belt for some answers.


Utah State takes on Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 26 rapidly approaching it is time to learn some more about these Huskies from the MAC. Everyone should know about Heisman finalist quarterback Jordan Lynch and all of what he does, and also that Northern Illinois was one game away from heading to their second-straight BCS bowl game.

We will dive into those topics, but we also talk about the rest of the NIU team, and we do so with the help from Hustle Belt which covers the entire MAC.

Q: . Is there going to be any let down by falling from a BCS bowl game to know playing in the Poinsettia Bowl?

A: I think that failing to get to the BCS again, and losing by so much to BGSU, is just motivation for the Huskies. Their motto this year has been finish the fight, and even though the got knocked down last game, they will get back up and keep fighting.

Q: What did Bowling Green do to slow down Northern Illinois' offense?

A: Their best defense was their offense. NIU couldn't stop the Falcons and that kept Lynch on the sidelines - the most effective, and only way, to make sure he doesn't score.

Q: Utah State has a good defense, so how do they slow down Jordan Lynch?

A: Their defense is more than's dominating. The best thing they can do is force him to throw the ball. As good as NIU's receivers are, they aren't as effective as our running game. If the Aggies get Lynch into a lot of 3rd-and-longs, it will be a long day for the Huskies.

Q: Outside of playing in a BCS bowl game, where does Utah State rank as an opponent?

A: I have actually watched USU the past few season a couple of times, and they are a very good team from a quality conference. The Mountain West is one of the best non-AQ conferences out they stack up with the Big 10 teams that NIU plays prestige wise, no. But talent wise, they are probably the second or third best team we have played (behind Iowa and possibly BGSU..we'll see on Thursday).

Q: Utah State is not known for their offense, so how can Northern Illinois' defense take advantage of that?

A: The biggest thing NIU has going for them is all the injuries on the Aggies offense. With Keaton and Hill out, Reynolds questionable, and Garretson recovering from a head injury...the offense it banged up to say the least. The Huskies will need to take advantage of the inexperience of the Aggie offense by forcing turnovers. Our defense has 28 takeaways this season, and will be looking for more.

Q: How does this game play out?

A: Obviously I have a bias. And that being said, I think this game will be very close. A top-5 offense takes on a top-10 defense. With it being Lynch's final game, and after losing the BCS bid, I think the Huskies are motivated to win. The Aggie defense will prove to be a formidable foe, but the Huskie defense will respond and play much better than last game, forcing a late turnover that lifts the Huskies to a 27-24 win.