ESPN Stats & Information does an awesome job all year unearthing tons of news and nuggets for us. Here are some good pieces of information to keep in mind as No. 12 Florida State prepares to take on No. 15 Northern Illinois in the Discover Orange Bowl.
Could the deep ball be a factor for Florida State? EJ Manuel has improved in this area in 2012, increasing his completion percentage on throws of 20 yards or longer by 16.2 percentage points from last season. Manuel has nine more completions on such throws this season (29) than he did in his previous two seasons combined (20). He has at least five such completions to four different receivers this season: Kenny Shaw, Kelvin Benjamin, Rashad Greene and Rodney Smith.
But on the flip side, Manuel has struggled throwing downfield on the road this season, completing 9 of 23 passes thrown 20 yards or longer away from Doak Campbell Stadium. In his last two bowl games, Manuel has completed 3 of 9 passes of this distance without a touchdown.
This will be the fourth bowl game for Manuel, and his third start. He has accounted for four touchdowns and has not turned the ball over in his first three bowls. And, most importantly, FSU has won all three games.
The Huskies might have a hard time staying on the field. Florida State has forced the most three-and-out drives in FBS this season, with 63. The Seminoles have forced at least four three-and-outs in 10 games this season, the most in FBS. Northern Illinois has 21 three-and-out drives on offense, tied for the seventh fewest in FBS entering bowl season. The only game that the Huskies had four or more three-and-outs was their first game of the season (and only loss) against Iowa.
The Seminoles are trying to change their luck, and the ACC's luck, in BCS games. Florida State has lost four straight BCS games. The Seminoles are 1-5 overall in BCS games, with the only win coming over then-Big East member Virginia Tech in the 2000 Sugar Bowl.