NCF Nation: Tommylee Lewis

Here are three keys for Northern Illinois against Florida State in Tuesday night's Discover Orange Bowl.

1. Speed racers: Florida State is one of the fastest teams in the country and certainly the fastest team Northern Illinois has faced so far. It will take some time for NIU to adjust to the Seminoles' speed, especially on the defensive side. The Huskies have to limit big plays from FSU early in the game. NIU has enough speed of its own to keep pace, especially at wide receiver, and the Huskies' offensive tempo will play a huge role in the game. The Huskies want to operate extremely fast on offense, and once they start moving the chains, they're tough to stop. Three-and-outs must be avoided, and NIU defenders must keep Florida State's weapons like wide receiver Rashad Greene.

2. Win the second half: Both teams perform well in the second half, and NIU's coaching staff is confident in their ability to make adjustments and the players' conditioning. Both areas will be tested against a Florida State team that has outscored opponents 296-80 in the first half this season. Don't be surprised if the Seminoles jump out early. NIU has to be able to take a few punches, hang in until halftime and then do what it does best in the final 30 minutes. Other than a season-opening loss to Iowa, the Huskies have closed games extremely well, outscoring the opposition 258-117 in the final two quarters of play. Kent State and Iowa are the only teams to outscore NIU in the second half this season.

3. Special attention: NIU and Florida State both have bright spots in the kicking game, especially the Seminoles, who boast one of the nation's best kickers in Dustin Hopkins. The Huskies rank in the top five nationally in both kickoff coverage and punt coverage, and they have solid returners in Tommylee Lewis and A.J. Sebastiano. Kicker Mathew Sims earned All-MAC honors in 2011 and kept NIU alive in overtime against Kent State in the MAC championship game Nov. 30. If NIU wants to pull off the upset, it must gain an edge in the kicking game and make impact plays.

Non-AQ Players of the Week

November, 7, 2011
Here are the non-AQ players of the week, as selected by each conference.


Offense: Nick Fanuzzi, QB, Rice. Fanuzzi had career highs with 405 yards passing, 30 completions and 439 yards of total offense, while throwing three touchdowns and leading Rice to a 41-37 win over UTEP. Fanuzzi helped lead the Owls to the third-highest offensive output in school history with 671 yards.

Defense: Curnelius Arnick, LB, Tulsa. Arnick had a career-best 19 tackles, including 12 solos and one tackle for loss, as well as one pass breakup in a 24-17 road victory over UCF.

Special teams: Tracey Lampley, PR, Southern Miss. Lampley returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown in a win at East Carolina. It was his first punt return for a touchdown since his freshman year in 2009.


East Division

Offense: Donte’ Harden, RB, Ohio. Harden had a school-record 322 all-purpose yards (184 rushing, 75 receiving and 63 return yards) and scored a pair of touchdowns in a 35-31 win over Temple.

Defense: Jerrell Wedge, LB, Miami (Ohio). Wedge had nine tackles and a fumble recovery in a 35-3 victory over Akron.

Special teams: Rob Hollomon, KR, Kent State. Hollomon averaged 35.7 yards on three kick returns in a 24-21 win over Central Michigan.

West Division

Offense: Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois. Harnish threw six touchdown passes, the second-most in MAC history, to lead Northern Illinois to a 63-60 shootout victory at Toledo. Harnish also rushed 16 times for 133 yards to account for 398 yards of total offense.

Defense: Dan Molls, LB, Toledo. Molls had 17 tackles and one tackle for loss in a 63-60 loss to Northern Illinois

Special teams: Tommylee Lewis, KR, Northern Illinois. Lewis became only the 13th player in NCAA FBS history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game when he scored on back-to-back kickoff returns for Northern Illinois in a 63-60 win at Toledo. Lewis brought the opening kickoff back 100 yards. After Toledo scored, he returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for the score.

Mountain West

Offense: Waymon James, RB, TCU. Rushed for a career-high 181 yards on 12 carries in a 31-20 win at Wyoming. James, who had a career-long 74-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter, had 117 yards on five carries in the final period.

Defense: Jon Davis, DB, Air Force. Davis tied a career-high with 12 tackles as Air Force captured the Commander-In-Chief Trophy for the second consecutive year with a 24-14 victory over Army.

Special teams: Parker Herrington, PK, Air Force. Kicked a career-high three field goals in a 24-14 win over Army. Herrington improved to 10-of-10 on the season inside 40 yards.

Sun Belt

Offense: Ryan Aplin, QB, Arkansas State. Aplin accounted for five touchdowns in leading Arkansas State to a 39-21 victory at FAU. Aplin rushed for 49 yards and four touchdowns and completed 24 of 37 passes for 244 yards and another score.

Defense: Devon Lewis-Buchanan, LB, ULL. Lewis-Buchanan had a career-high 12 tackles, including 11 solo, in a 36-35 win over Louisiana-Monroe. He also had three tackles for loss and a pass breakup in the win.

Special teams: Brett Baer, K, ULL. Baer perfectly executed an onside kick late in the game against ULM, allowing Ladarius Green to recover the kick at the ULM 39 to set up the game-winning score.


Offense: Colby Cameron, QB, Louisiana Tech. Cameron completed 19 of 33 passes for 376 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions in Louisiana Tech’s 41-21 win at Fresno State.

Defense: Travis Johnson, DE, San Jose State. Johnson tied a school record with four sacks in a loss to Idaho. One of his sacks resulted in San Jose State’s first safety in seven years. He had a total of 10 tackles and a fumble recovery.

Special teams: Stanley Morrison, WR, Utah State. Executed two successful fake punts in a 35-31 comeback win at Hawaii. In the second quarter, he rushed for 8 yards on fourth-and 4 and then in the second half, he threw a 23-yard pass on fourth-and-5 to Joe Hill for a first down.