The MAC has changed in the past decade, they have created an atmosphere of exciting offensively loaded football. They have gained the ability to play against some of the traditional powerhouses of college football, and sometimes even beat these powerhouses. One time, NIU beat Alabama, yes that one school that now dominates year in and year out, who was one short field goal away from a perfect season. Granted that Alabama team was nothing in comparison to the 2003 Alabama team, but the phrase, "NIU beat Alabama," brings pride to the MAC. I could list the numerous times that a MAC school had beaten the odds and won against the odds, but there hasn't been consistency among certain teams to do this. As of late, NIU has been the top team to beat in the MAC and the team that has been able to compete against these traditional powers.
In the 2013 BCS Orange Bowl, NIU went into the 4th quarter down 17-10, against Florida State, a team that is now playing for the National Championship only a year after beating NIU. Some Called the 31-10 loss a 'beat down,' sadly they must have watched the 4th quarter or the repeating highlight real on ESPN the next day. NIU stayed with FSU until the 4th quarter, where NIU's lack of experience was exposed. Granted the play calling for NIU's offense was somewhat simplified and FSU was smart enough to figure out, 'Hey I think Lynch is going to run it up the middle again,' NIU hung in there. This year, the sole loss to a hungry Bowling Green team cost NIU a second shot at BCS busting, and potentially winning a BCS Bowl game. After this next game, NIU will officially become Lynch-less. Does this mean NIU will become life-less? As a former NIU coach would say, NOT SO FAST, MY FRIEND! Yes that's a Lee Corso reference.
NIU relied on Lynch too much, when they didn't have to. At the end of the MAC Championship game, it became all about Lynch getting numbers for his Heisman candidacy, but why run the ball and waste clock time, when you could POTENTIALLY get back into the game, if not get even more numbers for Lynch. The way that NIU called the FSU and Bowling Green games, offensively speaking, was quite poor. Putting too much on Jordan Lynch and not on the team ruined the chances for NIU to come close to winning. Jordan Lynch in his best games had his team around him helping him out, he was not a one-man show controlling every aspect of the game, although he was able to do so. An NIU without Lynch, is not the greatest idea in the world, but its something NIU Alumni and Fans, like myself will have to endure. But the idea that the play calling could become diverse again, is too exciting. I won't miss the Lynch up the middle multiple times in a row, in a big game, such as the MAC Championship or a BCS Bowl. Teams knew he would be going up the middle and would stack the box, yet the play calling stayed the same. From what I recall Jordan Lynch had nearly the same passing statistics as AJ McCarron, and they could have been better than McCarron if that one thing called a pass play was called just a bit more often. Even an play action pass would have been wonderful, but no, lets see what Jordan Lynch can do running up the middle again. Coaches claim that every play is designed to score a touchdown, but repetition tends to ruin that idea.
Can NIU continue to win? The simple answer is yes, the long answer is only if their offensive coordinator realizes that they have more than one person who can make great plays. I'm not saying this to knock Jordan Lynch, I'm saying this to challenge the coaches to learn more about their offensive weapons and how to use them properly.
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