MIAMI GARDENS – Jordan Lynch talked the talk. Florida State walked the walk.
FSU held Jordan Lynch and the Huskies to one of their worst performances of the season.
Florida State’s defense held the Northern Illinois quarterback to 44 yards on 23 carries and just 176 passing yards. It was one of the worst performances of the season for the standout junior. And coming just days after his comment that he would bring FSU to its knees, it was instead the FSU defense that brought Lynch to the turf.
Again and again.
“They talked; we delivered,” FSU defensive end Bjoern Werner said. “We prepared well. Everybody was hungry to get this Orange Bowl win and we did.’’
FSU (12-2) delivered by holding the NIU offense in check most of the night in a 31-10 Orange Bowl win.
The Huskies (12-2) couldn’t get going in the first half, punting six times. NIU was held to 110 yards in the first 30 minutes.
For the night, NIU had seven punts. The Huskies also had two turnovers in the second half – an interception and a fumble – and on their last two possessions they turned the ball over on downs.
“I think the defense held its own tonight,” FSU safety Lamarcus Joyner said.
Lynch led NIU on an 87-yard drive in the third quarter, capped by an 11-yard pass to Martel Moore. The play brought NIU within 17-10 with 9:55 left in the third quarter.
NIU went with an onside kick and recovered, and Lynch led the Huskies down the field. But he was intercepted by junior Terrence Brooks at the FSU 14.
“At first I was on my man and I kind of let him go to give him a little space so the quarterback would think about throwing to him,” Brooks said. “I couldn’t believe he threw it, but I just stepped in front of him and picked it.”
It was the second straight season that Brooks had a second-half interception in a bowl game. Brooks also picked off Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Reis in the win over Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl.
Brooks’ interception set up Manuel’s 9-yard touchdown run to open the fourth quarter, which put FSU up 24-10.
After the game, NIU coach Rod Carey said that Lynch’s previous comments were “taken out of context,” that he was at the interview and that Lynch “did not make those comments.”
Regardless, Lynch and Co. were grounded. It was one of their worst offensive performances of the season for a team that had scored 30 or more points in 12 straight games.
“Definitely the best defense we’ve played all year,” Lynch said. “They were always in the right spot at the right time it seemed like, and they played – they were just hungry out there.”