Posted December 07, 2013

Bowling Green thrashes Northern Illinois and Jordan Lynch’s BCS hopes

BCS Busters, Bowling Green Falcons, MAC, Northern Illinois Huskies
(Carlos Osorio/AP)

Jordan Lynch played arguably his worst game of the season in a blowout loss to BGSU. (Carlos Osorio/AP)

DETROIT – Jordan Lynch wasn’t going to win the Heisman Trophy. He probably won’t be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Now he might not even make it to New York. But at least his ride at Northern Illinois has been a whole lot of fun.

The Huskies’ senior had arguably his worst game of the season, throwing two interceptions as Bowling Green upset No. 14 Northern Illinois, 47-27, at the MAC championship in Detroit on Friday night.

“You begin to see that people are still human,” Bowling Green senior defensive back Aaron Foster said. “A lot of the media people like to hype them up as being that they can’t be stopped, can’t be tackled, can’t be contained. We took that really personally. We wanted to make sure you guys knew he was still human.”

With how steady and consistent he was all year, it reached the point where if Lynch wasn’t rushing for 300 yards or engineering a 99-yard drive, he disappointed. Late in the first half against the Falcons, he threw his first interception since the Oct. 9 game vs. Central Michigan, and he threw another early in the fourth quarter down 34-20. The Falcons capitalized and tacked on a game-sealing score on the ensuing possession.

While many of the other top-tier quarterbacks in the nation aside from Florida State’s Jameis Winston and maybe Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater had clunkers here or there over the course of the season, Lynch was consistently good-to-great … until Friday night. There was an expectation that against MAC opponents he would always shine. Bowling Green had him figured out, holding him to 21-of-40 for 219 yards, 126 rushing yards and three total touchdowns.

Any buzz of Lynch as a darkhorse candidate for the Heisman Trophy is gone, and it would take an upset of unprecedented proportions to keep Winston from winning at this point.

“I never turn the ball over,” Lynch said. “I think I had six turnovers on the year going into this game. Two turnovers is unacceptable. I expect a lot out of myself. I just didn’t live up to my expectations.”

The loss by the Huskies makes the BCS bowl pairings more enticing nationally, although it’s maybe not an ideal end to the senior’s career. Clemson, Oregon and Baylor (and even Michigan State) are purring kittens. Lynch is relegated to racking up video game numbers in a lesser bowl instead of getting a chance to avenge his mediocre performance in last year’s Orange Bowl.

The Huskies still have one more game to play. And everyone able to separate conference affiliation and this-guy-is-better-than-that-guy should be thankful for that. Over the course of the year, some haven’t been able to ignore phrases like “draft stock” or “quality of competition” from the sheer fact Lynch has been a joy to watch as a college football player the past two seasons.

These guys – like Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel or Bridgewater or Winston or many other standouts – are comets that streak across our field of vision so fast we don’t have time to truly appreciate them. Blink and we miss them. It isn’t until they’re gone that we realize we won’t see that particular type of celestial oddity for years. Awards be damned, college football needs as many players like Jordan Lynch as it can get regardless of which conference they play in.

None of this is to discount what Bowling Green was able to do in Detroit. Amidst rumors of their coach’s name being attached to jobs like UConn or Wake Forest, the Falcons looked like the more complete team. Sophomore quarterback Matt Johnson threw for 393 yards and five touchdowns, including four touchdowns in the first half. He should have plenty of connections with receiver Ronnie Moore over the next couple years. The freshman caught four balls for 145 yards and a touchdown.

Northern Illinois seemed uninterested in playing defense over the middle, leaving BGSU receivers uncovered for easy scores. Whether it was blown assignments or Falcons coach Dave Clawson exploiting something he saw on film, the Huskies couldn’t figure it out, allowing 574 total yards on the day.

Playing from behind forced NIU out of its game plan, and the Huskies had to go away from the ground and pound style of play they used to win 24 of their last 25 games coming into Friday.

Clawson has built Bowling Green from the ground up, just as he did at Fordham and Richmond. If he opts to leave for another shiny happy job after this season, the next coach is stepping into a really good situation.

“You can build for seasons or you can build programs,” Clawson said. “People were trying to run us out of town three years ago because we were 2-10. At that point we were redshirting players and we were trying to lay the foundation because when we got good we wanted to stay good. A lot of people aren’t allowed to do that. I’m very fortunate I have a president and an athletic director that allowed us to build a program the right way so it can sustain itself. We’re good this year. We just won a championship, and I think we’re built to be good for a long time.”

THAMEL: Bowling Green’s Dave Clawson and the art of program building

Bowling Green is one of four teams to increase by three wins or more between the 2010-2012 seasons and was the only one of those teams to improve again in 2013. The team ranked first in the conference in just about every defensive category, including scoring defense, total defense and red zone defense. And whoever takes over for Clawson would also be able to use a brand new MAC championship trophy, the school’s first since 1992, to aid in recruiting.

If Clawson opts to stay, the conference’s East division – and the conference as a whole – is in a lot of trouble. If he goes, both he and Northern Illinois’ dynamic quarterback have left their undeniable mark on the MAC.

31 comments
falcon80
falcon80

These idiots do not understand in student population the MAC is the fourth largest conference in the country. The size of the football program is a function of money spent on the program. Until the non   BCS conferences can spend the cash on coaches and facilities, they will always be mid-majors. Its very difficult in this current system. The so called called big boys want to monopolize the system for good by never scheduling the better teams and never going on the road.


falcon80
falcon80

.Hay dandogwood are you from the mighty Ameri.can Conference? Now that's a joke, another brilliant comment

dandogwood
dandogwood

THe MAC is just a joke conference

dandogwood
dandogwood

Northern Illinois cost the MAC 18 million good.

JonOpperman
JonOpperman

Smh in college football.  It's a great game to watch at any level.  One team proved their grit last night, and all you nutjobs turn it into conference kibitzing again.  You have to win.  It happens on the field and not in your heads.  If NIU had won, they would rightfully be playing a BCS bowl.  Same is true for any of the picks to head there after securing a conference championship.  Don't speak too soon...your vaunted teams may falter on the field and leave you feeling like NIU fans.

doublejtrain68
doublejtrain68

The BCS folks can give a sigh of relief now. NIU had no business in a BCS bowl last year and FSU waxed them and exposed them. It would have been a nice story if they went undefeated, but teams like them should only be in a BCS bowl if they beat a Top 25 team or two in their schedule. If they did that this season and went unbeaten, I wouldn't have an issue with a BCS appearance. 

Soonermike1
Soonermike1

Thank the Lord keep these little clowns on the move.  They screwed up the BCS bowls last year.

dandogwood
dandogwood

Toledo is happy BG won. Fire that bum coach at Toledo. 

dandogwood
dandogwood

So Bowling Green winning over N Ill cost the MAC a $20,000,000 payout which would be divided among all the teams. Stupid win for BG.

Blinker
Blinker

Looks like it's the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl for NIU.  This is right where they belong, not jacking up a BCS game for the rest of us.  If they can't beat Bowling Green they would have gotten CRUSHED by a team from a decent conference.  Congrats on a great season.

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

Can we now stop the over hyping of dinky schools like NIU, Boise State and fresno state?   NO chance they'd have .500 record in a major conference

j7apple
j7apple

Lynch is relegated to racking up video game numbers in a lesser bowl instead of getting a chance to avenge his mediocre performance in last year’s Orange Bowl.


NIU was way overrated

1long1
1long1

The MAC almost beat Michigan this year who lost to Ohio State by a point. So where is your joke. Anyway, if you are from one of the big boy conferences then you just don't like sharing the riches.

1long1
1long1

Take it you have not seen Indiana's offense first hand. Indiana will have to be considered by others in the future if they get any sort of defense.If you from one of the big boy conferences then you just don't like sharing the riches.


JonOpperman
JonOpperman

That is a better argument from the hatred bunch.  FBS/BCS is all about money, and attempting to keep that money within the powerhouse conferences.  If not for computer help, NIU would never have cracked the elite in the BCS because the arbitrary votes fly in the direction the money likes to go.  Good for you for recognizing at least part of the problem with what fans are stuck with, and why we aren't gong to see a real playoff like FCS, Div I & II.

JonOpperman
JonOpperman

@Vinny Cordoba Computers had the Huskies ranked in the top 10 for a good portion of the season, but of course you must be a brainiac to justify such a baseless pronouncement.

Chris8
Chris8

You should calm down.

Chris8
Chris8

Heh.  I guess that's why the specialize in football and not economics!

Chris8
Chris8

I don't know about NIU or Fresno State, but when Boise State was at it's height they openly said they would play anyone, anywhere.  All the teams from those major conferences were too scared to play them because, as meandmesa pointed out, they kept beating those major conference teams.


Can't find quality opponents because the major programs are too afraid to schedule you?  That doesn't sound like over-hype to me.

meandmesa
meandmesa

Do you always make sweeping generalizations that have no basis in fact?  Just because NIU lost to Bowling Green doesn't mean every mid major football program pales in comparison to a school from a larger conferences. Boise State beat Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia Tech, Georgia in either bowl or regular season games over the last several years. Amazes me how people just make crap up to reinforce their own twisted view of reality.

JonOpperman
JonOpperman

With a 4 team system for the next decade or so, there will be even less big money going outside AQ conferences, and the long term effect will create a larger money and recruiting gap between even the elite and lesser AQ conferences.  The NCAA will be forced to split the teams into two divisions of 64 or so based upon the types of metrics they develop for all sports, including FCS, Div II & III, and then establish a playoff for both divisions regardless of conference with the big money being split evenly.

CJ - Be the Ball
CJ - Be the Ball

Computers just use formulas that are developed by humans. All year, NIU has been ranked above teams they had no chances of beating.

Vinny Cordoba
Vinny Cordoba

Looks like the computers were wrong, considering NIU got spanked by The Bowling Green University.

1long1
1long1

Guess that is a team that wants to win no matter the cost. Just wish our government was the same. Play to win rather than give away money.

JonOpperman
JonOpperman

NIU will remain undefeated against Alabama for at least another year.

JonOpperman
JonOpperman

But they use those algorithms consistently, without external bias.  NIU is undefeated against Alabama, and they won't get to 'fix' that one, always decided on the field, anytime soon.

Chris8
Chris8

@JonOpperman If the game is always decided on the field, why are you bringing up computer rankings?

JonOpperman
JonOpperman

The game is always decided on the field, not in your head.