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Poinsettia Bowl: Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Utah State Aggies Pick-Odds-Prediction 12/26/13

Utah State Aggies (8-5) at Northern Illinois Huskies (12-1)

College Football: Thursday, December 26, 2013 at 9:30 pm (Qualcomm Stadium)

The Line: Northern Illinois Huskies -1.5 -- Over/Under: 56 See the Latest Odds


Storyline: Northern Illinois looks to rebound from a disappointing loss in the MAC championship game, while Utah State is after back to back postseason victories when the two do battle in the Poinsettia Bowl Thursday.

The Breakdown: The Huskies were one win away from an unblemished 2013 and a second consecutive BCS bowl berth when things finally soured against Bowling Green in the MAC championship game. Heisman finalist Jordan Lynch had an outstanding game by normal standards, passing for 219 yards and 1 touchdown and rushing for 126 and 2 more, but the 47-27 end result surely overshadowed. N. Illinois can still reach a school-record 13 wins with a victory here, though.

Poinsettia Bowl: Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Utah State Aggies Pick-Odds-Prediction 12/26/13

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Huskies’ 4th-ranked 312.5 yards and 9th-ranked 41.6 points per contest were clearly a direct result of having the nation’s most prolific dual threat QB in senior Jordan Lynch, who passed for 2,676 yards and 23 TDs, while running for 1,881 yards and 22 TDs. N. Illinois had another 1,000 yard rusher in junior RB Cameron Stingily, who totaled 1,081 yards and 8 TDs on the season. And Lynch may have thrown the ball sparingly, but when he did, he completed 63.1 percent of his passes and had two steady targets in junior wideouts  Da’Ron Brown (42 REC, 689 YDs, 9 TDs) and  Tommylee Lewis (80 REC, 660 YDs, 3 TDs).

Utah State, meanwhile, had a strong finish to its 2013 campaign. After losing 4 of their first 7, the Aggies ripped off five straight before losing a tight one to Derek Carr and Fresno State in the Mountain West championship game. Utah State is now in its third consecutive bowl game, a school record, and can notch two straight postseason victories with a win here.

The Aggies bring one of the nation’s stingiest defenses, allowing a 7th-ranked 17.3 points and 107.3 rushing yards per outing. Offensively, Utah State suffered a setback when junior QB Chuckie Keaton went down with a season-ending knee injury in week 6. Freshman Darrell Garretson filled in nicely, though, passing for 1,325 yards and 9 touchdowns and leading the Aggies to five straight wins. Utah State’s 55th-ranked ground game at 178.8 yards a game also produced its third consecutive 1,000 yard rusher in senior RB Joey DeMartino, who rushed for 1,078 yards and 12 touchdowns. Senior WR Travis Reynolds led the Aggies with 51 catches for 832 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Rick’s Pick: N. Illinois is currently a 1.5 point favorite in this one with a 56 point total. Take your pick, a stout defense or Jordan Lynch. Lynch needs 119 yards to become the first player in NCAA history to both pass and rush for 2,000 yards in a single season. Look for that to happen and the Huskies to cover as a result.

 Follow me on Twitter @SCPRick

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