Florida State stuffed Northern Illinois all-purpose threat Jordan Lynch for most of the night and won the Orange Bowl 31-10.
Senior fullback Lonnie Pryor, voted the game’s outstanding player, ran for a career-high 134 yards and two scores in only five carries for Florida State.
Senior EJ Manuel threw for 291 yards.
The Seminoles defense came into the night allowing an average of just 13.1 points per game.
Including Tusday, they held their opponents to 17 points or less in 10 games this season, including giving up a touchdown or less in five games.
The victory was a consolation prize for the No. 13 Seminoles (12-2), 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 championship.
For the No. 16 Huskies (12-2), playing in a BCS bowl for the first time, the defeat snapped a 12-game winning streak. They fell to 5-28 against top 25 teams.
Manuel completed 21 of 28 passes for 242 yards in the first half.
Lonnie Pryor had a career-long 60-yard touchdown run to open the scoring for Florida State, and then Manuel led the Seminoles on a 10-play, 82-yard drive capped by Greene’s stellar catch near the back of the end zone to give FSU a 14-3 lead at the half.
Florida State outgained Northern Illinois 328-110 in the half, largely by bottling up Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch — who was seventh in this season’s Heisman balloting, yet struggled mightily early against the Seminoles.
Lynch eclipsed the 3,000-yard passing mark for the season in the second quarter, —making him the first player in NCAA history to throw for that many yards and rush for at least 1,500 more in the same campaign.
The Huskies ran 30 plays in the first half, and Lynch had the ball for 28 of them — 15 passes, 12 rushes, one kneel-down to end the half, and extremely little success.
Lynch was 4 for 15 passing for 52 yards, and had 24 rushing yards on 12 carries in the first half.
He entered the game with 11 straight 100-yard rushing games, another first for a Football Bowl Subdivision player, and set an NCAA record for quarterbacks with 1,771 yards on the ground entering the game.
The only first-half plays Northern Illinois ran that Lynch wasn’t directly involved with? A rush for no gain by Tommylee Lewis, and a 35-yard ramble by Desroy Maxwell on a fake punt that helped set up the Huskies’ lone score, a 25-yard field goal late in the opening quarter.
Northern Illinois busted into the Bowl Championship Series on the strength of a 12-game winning streak, becoming the first team from the Mid-American Conference to play in one of college football’s biggest bowlgames.
But even the Huskies acknowledged before kickoff that Florida State was unlike any opponent they’ve faced this season, and the Seminoles wasted little time showing that might be right. Pryor’s touchdown was more than twice as long as any other rushing play allowed by Northern Illinois this season, which entered the game having not allowed a run of more than 28 yards.
The Huskies were 0 for 8 on third downs in the half — and Florida State wasn’t much better, going 1 for 7.
The Huskies got on the board with 1:41 left on Mathew Sims’ 25-yard field goal, a score set up in large part by Maxwell getting free after taking a direct snap on the fake punt.
Pulling off that play was one two huge breaks Northern Illinois enjoyed in the opening quarter, the other being a fumble by Florida State tight end Nick O’Leary at the Huskies’ 35-yard line to thwart an early Seminoles drive.
Florida State was the game’s home team, which led to some unusual sights. First, the Seminoles were on the sideline usually occupied by their archrivals, the Miami Hurricanes. And secondly, Florida State also brought Renegade — its white horse — replete with a rider holding a flaming spear that was tossed into the turf, the traditional pregame scene when the Seminoles are in Tallahassee.
It was the matchup that easily sparked more debate than any other in the Bowl Championship Series this year. Florida State’s trip to Miami was a lock after the Seminoles won the Atlantic Coast Conference — but Northern Illinois’ berth was widely criticized by many.
“It’s our motivation,” Lynch said before the game. “We know what kind of team we are.”