NIU loses MAC title, BCS shot
Jordan Lynch and No. 16 Northern Illinois failed to take advantage of opportunity to impress Heisman Trophy voters and earn a BCS bowl game bid.
Matt Johnson threw four of his career-high five touchdown passes in the first half and Bowling Green routed the Huskies 47-27 on Friday night for the Mid-American Conference title, ending their shot at playing in a marquee bowl game.
”We came out kind of flat,” Lynch acknowledged.
The Northern Illinois (12-1) loss improves the chances of Baylor or Oregon being an at-large team in a BCS bowl game.
”This game doesn’t define us — we’re not going to let it,” Huskies coach Rod Carey said. ”We’ve got another game, we don’t know where yet. We still have a lot to play for.”
Instead of going back to a BCS game and helping the MAC get a big check to split among its schools, Northern Illinois might end up coming back to Detroit in a few weeks for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
”We never talked about the BCS,” Lynch insisted.
Lynch ran for 126 yards and two TDs to break his own single-season record for yards rushing by a quarterback in major college football. When the outcome was still in doubt in the third quarter, Lynch surpassed his yards rushing total from last season (1,815) and will have 1,881 yards rushing going into a lackluster bowl game.
He was 21 of 40 for 219 yards with a TD and two interceptions, including one in the fourth quarter that set up Johnson’s fifth TD that put Bowling Green up 40-20.
After Lynch threw an incomplete pass to turn the ball over on downs on the ensuing drive, he was taunted by Falcons fans: ”No more Heisman! No more Heisman!”
On this night, the best QB played for Bowling Green.
The senior said it was ”unacceptable,” to throw two interceptions.
”I expect a lot of myself and I didn’t live up to my expectations,” Lynch said.
Johnson was 21 of 27 for a career-high 393 yards, connected with five teammates for scores and didn’t throw an interception.
”There was a lot of talk about Jordan Lynch being up for the Hesiman,” Johnson said. ”It’s well-deserved, but I did take it a little personal.”
The Falcons (10-3) won a MAC title for the first time since 1992 — just months after Johnson was born.
Lynch was held to just 35 yards rushing in the first half and when forced to pass, he was often off the mark as he completed just half of his attempts by halftime. He seemed to throw one pass too high, but Juwan Brescacin leaped to snag the football with his left hand in the end zone to tie the game midway through the first quarter.
”They had a good game plan,” Lynch said. ”They were fast. They were physical.”
Tyler Tate’s 25-yard field goal with 6:49 left in the first half put Bowling Green ahead for good.
Lynch ran for a TD to pull the Huskies within 11 points early in the third quarter, but they couldn’t get closer.
The Huskies lost for the first time since Jan. 1, 2013, when Florida State dominated them in the Orange Bowl.
”It’s a tough one to swallow,” Lynch said.