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Florida State to Take on Northern Illinois in Orange Bowl

Florida State ended the regular season with a 11-2 record and a spot in the Orange Bowl. They’re in a great position to go 12-2 and win only the second BCS bowl in school history. They have a suffocating defense, ranked seventh in the country, and an offense that struggled down the stretch though found ways to make the necessary plays.

“I’ll be extremely proud of it 10, 15 years from now,” quarterback EJ Manuel said. “I’ll be able to say I helped our team get back to where we needed to be as far as the BCS conversation, the national championship conversation and things like that. I want to see greatness from here on out. We have a lot of great players, a lot of great young players, and guys understand what it takes to get to this point, so I don’t see us going back to where we used to be. I think Florida State is back in the conversation.”

Indeed, the Seminoles have been out of the national spotlight for a while, but their defense, loaded with future NFL draft picks, has made the difference.

“Oh man,” defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said. “Oh, man. We’ve been trying to get here for a long time. That’s why I thank God for letting us win this game and I thank the seniors for helping this program get back to the top and get back into the national title conversations and winning these ACC championships and Orange Bowls and those types of games. We’re Florida State. That’s what’s supposed to happen. It wasn’t nothing miraculous. That’s what we’re supposed to do.”

Many college football fans are cynical about the upcoming Orange Bowl between the Seminoles and the Northern Illinois Huskies. The Huskies somehow broke in the BCS bowl discussion out of relative obscurity in the Mid-American Conference, and critics of Florida State’s soft schedule this season have plenty more ammunition to use against the school in the event (perhaps likely event) that they beat the Huskies and win the Orange Bowl. However, the Seminoles are just happy to be back in the national picture of college football.

“I think it would be huge,” Fisher said. “You get your kids used to those situations and that atmosphere and environment, and the things it takes to do that. Northern Illinois is going to be a great game. It’s very important for us to play well in my opinion. I think it establishes some of the tradition and winning culture we want to establish at Florida State. It’s a great opportunity for us and we need to do it.”

The lines haven’t been released for this game yet, though Florida State will likely be heavily favored. Their defense is simply too strong and too suffocating for a team like the Huskies that have not faced a test as remotely difficult as an ACC championship team. The Huskies’ only quality win came against Kent State, not exactly a football powerhouse either. The Seminoles could and should absolutely roll Northern Illinois in this game. It’s a great story that the Huskies made it to the Orange Bowl, and people who deride them being selected are missing part of what makes college football so fun and unpredictable. However, the Seminoles are several classes above Northern Illinois in virtually every conceivable way.

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