Friday, December 27, 2013
Instant Analysis: Utah St. 21, N. Illinois 14
By Austin Ward
A closer look at Utah State's 21-14 win over No. 23 Northern Illinois on Thursday night in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, in which the Aggies shut down Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch in a historic victory for their program.
It was over when: Lynch, flustered seemingly from start to finish both as a rusher and a passer, fired a third-and-9 pass high and through the end zone to end a drive for a potential go-ahead, fourth-quarter touchdown for Northern Illinois. Immediately after that, kicker Mathew Sims missed his second field goal of the game. The Aggies and their hard-hitting defense held on to a lead that wouldn't be seriously threatened again.
Game ball goes to: The effort to shut down Lynch was collective, but Brian Suite's two turnovers earned him the nod as the top performer in a dominant defensive performance. Suite recovered an early fumble that set up a field goal for the first points of the game, but it was his diving interception on the opening play of the second half that paved the way for a touchdown that gave the Aggies a lead they would hold the rest of the evening.
Stat of the game: After eating up chunks of yardage on the ground during the most prolific rushing season ever by a college quarterback, Lynch looked like he was locked in a phone booth against the Aggies. Entering the game with 1,881 rushing yards this year, Lynch was held to just 39 on 18 carries as Utah State consistently bottled up the third-place finisher in the Heisman voting.
What it means: The Aggies claimed back-to-back bowl victories for the first time in school history, more than enough to sum up the current state of the program. But after dealing with significant adversity after losing starting quarterback Chuckie Keeton in the middle of the first year under Matt Wells, Utah State looked like it was in safe hands to remain a postseason fixture moving forward.
To watch the trophy presentation of the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, click here.