Originally written on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 6/24/13

Is Jordan Lynch a legitimate Heisman contender? We will find out in the fall. Photo: USA Today Sports Ty Detmer, from BYU, was the last Heisman Trophy winner from what we consider today to be a non-BCS conference program, so the odds would seem to be stacked against any player not playing for one of the big time programs in 2013. But don't let that stop the fun at Northern Illinois, enjoying new heights in program history. The Huskies have officially pulled back the curtain on Heisman Campaign season with a full-blown effort to support their all-everything quarterback, Jordan Lynch. The campaign includes an official webpage and Twitter account. Lynch finished seventh in the 2012 Heisman Trophy voting.  Four of the players finishing ahead of him return to their respective programs this season, including 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, South Caroline defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and USC wide receiver Marqise Lee all finished ahead of Lynch last season and are among the leading contenders entering the 2013 season. Lynch passed for 3,138 yards and 25 touchdowns and led the Huskies in rushing with 1,815 yards and 19 touchdowns. He was about as close to Tim Tebow as we have seen since the Gators quarterback won his own Heisman Trophy a few years back. Lynch was the key ingredient in Northern Illinois not only winning another MAC title but also in earning a spot at the BCS table as a BCS buster. Although Lynch and the Huskies were flattened by Florida State in the Orange Bowl, Northern Illinois returns with plenty of optimism for more success in 2013. With Lynch healthy, the Huskies should see plenty of offensive production from their top player once again, which could keep him in the conversation even if just for a little bit. The big knock on Lynch, of course, will always be the level of play he competes against on a regular basis. Lynch tears up MAC defenses on a weekly basis, but against bigger programs is when Northern Illinois can't even rely entirely on Lynch. This is not to suggest Lynch is a one-trick pony of course, but just that he could benefit from more support from his teammates overall. Ultimately what Lynch would need is a couple of Heisman moments, which are difficult to really stand out form the bunch considering the conference he plays in. So here are some games to keep an eye on if we are going to seriously consider Lynch for college football's highest individual honor: August 31, at Iowa - Iowa handed Northern Illinois their only regular season loss last season. Really. If Lynch can make up for that loss, on the road in a Big Ten stadium, then the campaign will begin the year with some momentum. Lose at Iowa though and all of this may go as nothing more than an after thought. Iowa is just not that good. September 28, at Purdue - Once again a visitor in a Big Ten stadium, Lynch and Northern Illinois should not be overmatched and capable of returning home with a road victory. If they can pull off a double dip in Big Ten stadiums, Lynch will have our mild attention. October 5, at Kent State - Kent state figures to be one of the toughest MAC games on the schedule for the Huskies, and if they can pick up a road win here they could very well be off to a 5-0 record with four road wins. Big numbers will be a must for Lynch. November 20, at Toledo - In a game that could very well be a de facto MAC West championship tilt, a win here is essential. If Northern Illinois can reach this point of the season without a loss, there will be some buzz and support for Lynch as a legitimate long shot contender. A loss though and it could all be over. This is on a Wednesday night, so the spotlight will be there. December 6, MAC Championship - Last year was a great performance by Lynch in the clutch, and that will need to happen again. No MAC championship, no shot. Are you buying or selling Lynch as a legitimate Heisman contender? Let us know in the comments.

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