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NIU’s overlooked QB, Jordan Lynch, has only begun to talk


Northern IlLinois
vs. Florida state

The facts: Jan. 1, 7:30 p.m., in Miami, ESPN.

Updated: January 29, 2013 6:40AM

MIAMI SHORES, Fla. — Good South Side lad that he is, Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch isn’t backing down from the bulletin-board material he gave Florida State.

Asked about his Sporting News comment that the Huskies ‘‘plan to have [the Seminoles] on their knees — and then just keep pounding away’’ in the fourth quarter, Lynch doesn’t see the harm.

‘‘We’re not cocky,’’ the redshirt junior said after NIU practiced Thursday in balmy 70-degree weather at Barry University. ‘‘We’re confident in what we do. We feel we can be in the game. We didn’t come down here for all the activities. We came down here for the Orange Bowl.’’

Refreshingly, NIU coach Rod Carey saw no harm, either.

‘‘Is that brash?’’ Carey said. ‘‘What’s he supposed to say? ‘We’re just hoping to get a first down, or a yard or two?’ ’’

Even though Northern Illinois finished 12-1, even though it navigated its way through the BCS tax code to garner its automatic berth in the Orange Bowl, people still question whether it belongs here.

And the Huskies are getting tired of it.

‘‘Yeah, I’d say so,’’ said Lynch, a grade-school running back in Mount Greenwood who became a running quarterback at Mount Carmel and hasn’t looked back since — even when no one wanted him.

‘‘Like everyone else on this team, I play with a chip on my shoulder,’’ said Lynch, who’s listed at 6-1, 220 pounds. ‘‘I feel like I could have gone somewhere else coming out of high school. Either I was too small or too slow or didn’t run the right system.’’

Lynch,. who threw ‘‘eight or 10 passes a year’’ in Frank Lenti’s legendary triple-option at Mount Carmel, received exactly one offer to play quarterback in college, from former NIU coach Jerry Kill, who’s now at Minnesota.

‘‘This was the only school that wanted me to play quarterback,’’ he said. ‘‘Coach Kill invited me to a one-day camp. Saw me play quarterback and offered me that night.’’

Decisions like that are the reason NIU is one of only six schools in the nation to have won at least 10 games in each of the last three seasons, joining Alabama, Boise State, LSU, Oregon and Stanford.

Lynch leads the nation in total offense with 4,733 yards, including 1,771 rushing yards, a record for a QB, surpassing Michigan’s Denard Robinson 1,702 yards in 2010.

‘‘All good running backs have good vision,’’ Carey said. ‘‘You have to have all the physical tools, which he has. But he has great vision. And he’s patient.’’

The question is, will Lynch be able to use his uncanny knack for read-and-react running when NIU steps up in weight class against Florida State, which has one of the nation’s stoutest and most athletic defenses?

‘‘I trust in Jordan’s decision-making ability,’’ said offensive lineman Matt Krempel. ‘‘I trust our scheme and our coaches and our play-calling. I believe whatever they have in store will work pretty well.’’

And yet, because NIU is from the Mid-American Conference, which will be making its BCS bowl debut, the Huskies, who are 12-point underdogs, aren’t being given a snowball’s chance on South Beach.

Not only is Lynch not conceding anything to the Seminoles, he’s not ruling out playing at the next level.

‘‘Growing up, that was always my dream, playing in the NFL,’’ said Lynch, who likes the pro trend toward mobile QBs. ‘‘Russell Wilson and [Robert Griffin III] are doing a great job. It seems like the NFL is starting to [use] more quarterbacks like that. It definitely gives guys like me hope, guys who are 6 feet and under.’’

With goals like that, it’s no wonder Lynch is looking forward to playing the Seminoles and proving NIU’s doubters wrong.

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