8:50 PM ET, January 1, 2013
Sun Life Stadium, MIAMI, FL
MIAMI -- Anxious to avoid a Discover Orange Bowl shocker, the Florida State Seminoles kept getting tricked.
An onside kick fooled them, as did a fake punt and a pooch punt by Northern Illinois' star quarterback.
But the final score was no surprise. Florida State had too much speed and depth for the Huskies, and pulled away for a 31-10 victory Tuesday night.
Senior fullback Lonnie Pryor, voted the game's outstanding player, ran for a career-high 134 yards and two scores on only five carries. Senior EJ Manuel threw for 291 yards, while the Seminoles stuffed Huskies QB and all-purpose threat Jordan Lynch for most of the night.
"I'm glad I'm a Nole, and I'm glad the seniors went out with a bang," Pryor said. "I always wanted to be MVP of a bowl, and I told myself that every time I get the ball, to try to make a big play."
The victory was a consolation prize for the Seminoles (No. 12 BCS, No. 13 Associated Press), who began the season with national championship hopes. They've won five consecutive bowl games, but the victory was their first in a BCS bowl since 2000, when they beat Virginia Tech for the national title.
After the game, the Seminoles (12-2) wore T-shirts that read, "Florida Statement."
"It's not the national championship, but right below," defensive end Bjoern Werner said. "Not a lot of teams can say that."
For Northern Illinois (No. 15 BCS, No. 16 AP), playing in a BCS bowl for the first time, the defeat snapped a 12-game winning streak. The Huskies (12-2) went in as two-touchdown underdogs and fell to 5-28 against top-25 teams.
"We knew that they were going to play us tough," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "But our kids, it's another step in which we handled the big platform, and I'm very proud of them."
Pryor scored the first touchdown on a career-long 60-yard run, then ran 37 yards for a clinching touchdown with 10 minutes left. They were the two longest rushes allowed by Northern Illinois all season.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher talks to ESPN's Maria Taylor about the Seminoles' impressive victory over Northern Illinois in the Discover Orange Bowl.
Manuel went 26-for-38, threw for one score and ran for another.
"We just kept playing," he said. "Now we're going to enjoy ourselves."
The Huskies were widely derided as unworthy of a BCS bowl berth and didn't do enough to silence the doubters. They were outgained 534 yards to 259.
The trick plays in the kicking game helped keep the Huskies close until the fourth quarter, but when it came to Lynch, not much fooled a Florida State defense ranked second in the nation. And the Huskies' last attempt at razzle-dazzle backfired when receiver Da'Ron Brown lost a fumble on an end-around at midfield, setting up the Seminoles' final touchdown.
"Definitely the best defense we played all year," Lynch said. "They were always in the right spot at the right time, it seemed like. They were hungry out there."
Lynch went into the game leading the nation in rushing and total offense, and he threw or ran on nearly every play for the Huskies. But he completed only 15 of 41 attempts for 176 yards and carried 23 times for 44 yards.
The junior became the first player in NCAA history to surpass 3,000 yards passing and 1,500 rushing in a season.
After the Huskies' lone touchdown cut their deficit to 17-10 in the third quarter, they recovered an onside kick, and Lynch moved them to the Florida State 23. But he was flushed from the pocket on third down and threw an ill-advised pass that Terrence Brooks intercepted.
"It probably wasn't the smartest thing to force the ball there," Lynch said.
The loss was Rod Carey's debut as the Huskies' coach. He was promoted to replace Dave Doeren, who took the North Carolina State job after the regular season.
"I'm upset," Carey said. "Florida State is a well-oiled machine. They beat us, no doubt. That doesn't change the fact I don't like to lose."
Doeren watched the game from the stands.
When Florida State dropped no one deep defending an early fourth-and-1 situation, Lynch pooched a 52-yard punt that rolled dead at the 5. The poor field position didn't faze the Seminoles, who scored in four plays, the last when Pryor broke into the clear near midfield and outran the Huskies' secondary.
With the Seminoles up only 7-3, Manuel moved them 82 yards in the final 3:57 of the first half for another touchdown with 11 seconds left. He threw on the move for a 6-yard score to Rashad Greene, who managed to get one foot inbounds before he tumbled out of the end zone.
Desroy Maxwell took a short snap on a fake punt on fourth-and-3 and ran 35 yards to set up a field goal for the Huskies' first score.
"You've got to play to win," Carey said of the trick plays. "We saw some things. We knew we had it. Gosh darn, our kids executed it."
But his team's offense struggled to sustain anything. Lynch passed, ran or punted on 28 of 29 plays for Northern Illinois' offense in the first half, and the Seminoles were geared to stop him.
That was it for Northern Illinois, though. This was the Seminoles' night.
"We wanted to leave a legacy and change the culture in what we do here," said Manuel, who became only the second quarterback to go 4-0 in bowl games, joining West Virginia's Pat White. "You're reaping the benefits right now."
It was over when... Florida State's Xavier Rhodes forced a fumble from Da'Ron Brown on a second-down run with 11:15 left. Northern Illinois was driving in hopes of cutting FSU's lead to seven.
Gameball goes to... Lonnie Pryor. The senior fullback opened the scoring with a 60-yard scoring run -- the longest of his career -- and put the icing on the cake with his 37-yard TD.
Stat of the game... 44: Jordan Lynch entered the game as one of the most dynamic offensive players in college football, but the junior quarterback finished with just 44 yards rushing on 23 carries.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-18||3-14|
|4th Down Conversions||2-4||2-2|
|TD||05:28||Lonnie Pryor 60 Yd Run (Dustin Hopkins Kick)||0||7|
|FG||01:41||Mathew Sims 25 Yd||3||7|
|TD||00:11||Rashad Greene 6 Yd Pass From EJ Manuel (Dustin Hopkins Kick)||3||14|
|FG||11:48||Dustin Hopkins 25 Yd||3||17|
|TD||09:55||Martel Moore 11 Yd Pass From Jordan Lynch (Mathew Sims Kick)||10||17|
|TD||14:56||EJ Manuel 9 Yd Run (Dustin Hopkins Kick)||10||24|
|TD||10:33||Lonnie Pryor 37 Yd Run (Dustin Hopkins Kick)||10||31|
EJ Manuel completed all nine of his passes off of play action for 104 yards in the Orange Bowl. It was his most attempts off of play action without an incompletion in his career. Manuel averaged 5.2 more yards per attempt when he used play action than when he did not, and he gained a first down on over half of his play-action passes on Tuesday.[+]
EJ Manuel Passing
Jordan Lynch completed 2-of-11 attempts with an interception on passes thrown of 10 yards or longer against Florida State, including one of his six passes thrown at least 15 yards. Florida State entered the Orange Bowl allowing opponents to complete 20.2 percent of their passes thrown 15 yards or longer, the lowest percentage by an AQ school.
Florida State outgained Northern Illinois 190-27 on runs inside of the tackles in the Orange Bowl. Three different Seminoles, Lonnie Pryor, James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman, all had more yards between the tackles then the Huskies had total. Northern Illinois had very little room to run, averaging 1.0 yard before contact on such runs.[+]
Rushing Inside the Tackles
Lonnie Pryor had a career-high 134 rush yards on five carries in the Orange Bowl. His previous career high was 65 yards against South Florida on Sept. 29, 2012. Pryor was untouched on his touchdowns runs of 37 and 60 yards. He gained 129 of his 134 yards before contact.
Florida State averaged 6.6 yards per carry in the Orange Bowl. The offensive line played a major role. The Seminoles gained 196 of their 243 rushing yards before contact with a defender and were not touched on all three of their touchdowns. Their average of 5.3 yards before contact per rush was a season high.[+]
The Orange Bowl is the first time this season that Northern Illinois has been held without a touchdown in the first half. Silver lining for the Huskies? The last two times they didn't have a first-half touchdown, they went on to win the game.
Lonnie Pryor's 60-yard touchdown run is the longest running play allowed by Northern Illinois this season. The Huskies had not allowed a running play longer than 28 yards all season.
ESPN Stats & Information