Some in Seminole Nation may still be reeling from the improbable loss to Florida and the embarrassing win over Georgia Tech, but it’s time to move on.
FSU has two losses on the season—it lost by one point to NC State and had a fourth-quarter lead on Florida before EJ Manuel fumbled that game away. FSU is still a very good football team—it will be much better next year with a new quarterback and a stronger offensive line—and has a chance to dominate an inferior team in a BCS Bowl game.
Northern Illinois has no business in this game—and FSU must put that fact on full display. I understand how the BCS works, but Northern Illinois is not a very good football team—or, to be fair to its program, it has no business competing on the big stage against a team like Florida State.
The Huskies are a tiny and untalented team. Not one player on NIU’s team would crack FSU’s third-string depth chart—that’s literally how big of a divide there is in talent between these two teams.
The leader of the Huskies is Jordan Lynch, who runs a gimmicky offense that employs a lot of read-option packages. He is the main threat, as he likes to take off with the ball after he pulls it at the mesh point.
Basically, as long as FSU’s defensive line controls the line of scrimmage—which it will—and contains Lynch’s gimmicky plays, NIU should be virtually incapable of moving the ball. Everyone on FSU’s defense is better than everyone on NIU’s offense, and that’s why NIU’s dreams of moving the ball against the loaded Seminoles defense will be short-lived.
On the offensive side of the ball, I think FSU will pound the ball against NIU’s undersized front seven. EJ Manuel has fallen apart in the last phase of his career at Florida State, and it would probably be wise to take the ball out of his hands.
The good news is that James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman are fully capable of trucking this Huskies front seven, and with a little bit of help from their blockers, I believe they will do just that. Manuel will need to throw the ball at times, but I think a dominant FSU run game will put this game away very early. The Huskies just do not have the bodies to play big-boy football, and FSU does.
I believe this game will be a very violent one as well—FSU is going to send a message to the college football world. The fact that the spread is only minus-14 should be insulting to every FSU player and coach. I think that fact, along with the coaching cloud and doubt surrounding the program, will inspire this 2012 Tribe to woodshed this bottom-dwelling team and grab some momentum going into next season.