NIU busts through as Lynch's stock rises

Updated 11/25/2013 7:35 PM
  • After stellar efforts against Ball State and Toledo, Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch still just might get that invite to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

    After stellar efforts against Ball State and Toledo, Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch still just might get that invite to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. Associated Press

It was pretty much all bad news this weekend, what with Derrick Rose done for the year, the Bears playing their worst game of 2013 and Northwestern losing its seventh straight, ensuring the Wildcats won't be bowl-eligible for the first time since 2006.

But there was some good news around these parts, and it came in a most unexpected way. When the BCS standings were announced Sunday night, NIU had jumped into the 14th spot and past Fresno State.

It was shocking because thus far the voters haven't given the Huskies much respect, and didn't again this week. Fortunately for NIU, it was the computer rankings that gave them a boost into a BCS-busting position.

The chance that NIU could make the leap a second straight year is also good news for Jordan Lynch, whose chances of making it to New York for the Heisman ceremony have also been a longshot most of the season. But if NIU wins out and stays ahead of Fresno, Lynch's odds of an invite also improve considerably.

Many Heisman voters don't watch the games, as is the case with those who participate in college football polls. The proof is in the odd results seen weekly throughout the top 25.

At this point, Lynch has little left to prove, and what he did the last two weeks on national TV is merely what he always does, which is put the team on his back and carry the Huskies to victory.

The win over Toledo was more impressive only because Lynch lost his top two wide receivers and the Rockets had little to worry about beyond Lynch.

With all due respect to the hard-running Cameron Stingily, safety Jimmie Ward -- who is looking more NFL ready than any player on the roster -- and a stubborn defense that seems to always start slow and play a huge second half, it was Lynch who dominated the game and kept alive back-to-back BCS dreams.

It doesn't hurt that Bryce Petty, Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota were all terrible Saturday and their teams lost, while Lynch was spectacular the last two weeks and NIU beat teams that arrived at a combined 16-4.

He's obviously hurt in the Heisman voting by the competition he plays and the conference he plays in, but all Lynch can do is play for the only school that recruited him, and the only games he can play are those on the schedule.

Whether his remarkable season is enough to get Lynch to New York for the Heisman ceremony remains to be seen. Yet, for one of the best players in college football today, for a young man of fine character in a year that has seen so much ugliness, and for one of the most productive players in the history of the game, a spot in the front row on that Saturday night would be a fitting tribute.

The numbers

In 2012, Jordan Lynch became the first player in FBS history to run for more than 1,500 yards and pass for more than 3,000 in a season, and with three games left this season he's got a good chance to do it again with 1,434 rushing yards and 2,418 passing yards, despite an early-season injury that affected him for three games after the win over Eastern Illinois.

Last season Lynch finished second in the nation to Heisman winner Johnny Manziel in total yards (4,953) and fourth in rushing yards (1,815), while setting FBS records for QB rushing yards and 100-yard rushing games (12).

Going into his final game ever in DeKalb on Tuesday night (ESPN2, 6 p.m.), Lynch is fourth in the country in total yards (3,852), sixth in yards per game (350.2) and seventh in rushing.

BCS busting

Just because NIU has passed Fresno, it's no guarantee the Huskies will stay ahead by winning out. The politics involved with the voter polls is significant, and they could derail the NIU train even with the strong computer rankings. Assuming Fresno wins its last two, the end result could be very close.

Ivan Boldirev-ing

There's a very long way to go before the postseason, but it was with that in mind that the Blackhawks acquired Kris Versteeg in a low-risk, potentially high-reward deal.

The 27-year-old Versteeg is hungry to prove he's still a valuable NHL player and desperate to win another ring, after watching his ex-mates win again last season. In addition, he brings an edge that is necessary in the playoffs. He's unafraid, plays hard in the corners and will stick his nose in anywhere.

The Hawks got Florida to pay half his salary while sending two big, young players to the Panthers. Jimmy Hayes (24) and Dylan Olsen (22) both have potential, but both would have to improve their skating considerably to become consistent contributors at the NHL level.

Power play

Theo Epstein isn't taking any chances with the lineup card after differences with Dale Sveum. Epstein has taken one of his guys -- director of player development Brandon Hyde -- and installed him as Rick Renteria's bench coach, ensuring complete communication with the front office and control over all aspects of the clubhouse and dugout operation.

Just asking

Is it ever a surprise when teams attack Shea McClellin via the run? Actually, is it ever a surprise when teams attack Shea McClellin?

Just wondering

Are you to the point where you have absolutely no idea how a defender can make an NFL play without getting flagged?

And finally

Pats corner Aqib Talib, on the Sunday night game finally ending after a botched Broncos punt return: "I guess someone forgot to push the button at Buffalo Wild Wings."

•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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