Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 12/28/12
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. A phrase that helped explain last seasons lopsided Orange Bowl debacle offers hope for a memorable New Years night this time around. Expect the unexpected. A year ago, Clemson entered the Orange Bowl as a 3-point favorite before being embarrassed by West Virginia 70-33. This year, Florida State has been tabbed a 13-point favorite against BCS bowl newcomer Northern Illinois. Many people assume the Seminoles will take control and cruise. We expect it as well, FSU quarterback EJ Manuel said. Not anything against those guys, but I think whoever our opponent was going to be, thats the way we were going to think if we come out, play well and execute like were supposed to, well win the game. NIU linebacker Tyrone Clark didnt seem bothered at his team being a significant underdog. We were built that way, to be underdogs, Clark said. Were used to that, its good for us. Both Florida State (11-2) and Northern Illinois (12-1) sport potent offenses statistically NIU averages 485.8 total yards; FSU 466.7 though compiling such numbers in the Atlantic Coast Conference is more impressive than doing so in the Mid-American Conference. Manuel leads a Seminoles offense that has produced 262.9 passing yards and 203.0 rushing yards per game. It's a lot easier to defend an offense when maybe they're just a running football team or if they're just a passing football team, NIU defensive coordinator Jay Niemann said Friday. But when they present the balance that Florida State does, I think that's where your challenges come into play. Niemanns unit includes four players from South Florida: sophomore linebacker Jamaal Bass (Miramar), junior defensive tackle Ken Bishop (Sunrise), senior cornerback Demetrius Stone (Miami) and senior linebacker Victor Jacques (Miami). We realized the type of program they were building, trying to follow in Boise States footsteps, Jacques said in explaining why he and the others were attracted to NIU. Jacques, who battled a left knee injury most of the season, recently got a tattoo on his left bicep showing the Miami skyline and a little orange. He didnt sound intimated or overwhelmed at playing Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Ive been playing against their speed since I was growing up, Jacques said. But what you want to do with their athletes, you want to make sure you know where they are at all times. You want to contain them, and what we like to do as Huskies, we pride ourselves on gang tackling. NIUs south Florida players have enjoyed a homecoming of sorts this week, but they know a lot of work will be needed to turn the trip into a true celebration. We have to make sure we are physical. That is going to be the main thing, be physical, Stone said. We know they are going to try and run the ball because that is one of their strengths, so we want to make sure we are physical swarming to the ball. The Huskies have been successful this season rushing four linemen, with defensive ends Alan Baxter (9.5 sacks) and Sean Progar (8.5 sacks) leading the way. Niemann likely picks spots to blitz, though doing so would make them susceptible to big plays by FSUs speedsters. We've got to tackle well in space. We've got to leverage the ball well. We've got to make sure that if they get yards, they're yards that are earned, Niemann said. We can't let runs break out, we can't let balls be thrown over our head, what we call explosive plays. We really have to limit those. Built to be underdogs. Following in Boise States footsteps. Knowing they have to be physical against Florida State. Maybe fans and media should expect the unexpected from Northern Illinois on Tuesday night at Sun Life Stadium?
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
The Worst: NFL Week 2
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Wisconsin Badgers serve notice to Michigan State, rest of Big Ten

Ole Miss Rebels throttle Georgia, remain in New Year's Six bowl race

Broncos brass made right decision on parting ways with QB Osweiler

Wideout Dorial Green-Beckham to become more of a target says Eagles

Is the NFL actively creating more opportunities for women in football?

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report claims Vikings teammates "upset" over Peterson surgery decision

Check out these bold predictions for Week 3 in the NFL

Jets wideout Brandon Marshall says Week 3 "not" in the cards for him

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick joins high school team for anthem protest

Dodgers honored Vin Scully tonight, and he wrote a letter to fans

Kevin Garnett announces retirement from NBA in Instagram video

WATCH: What are the best WR-CB rivalries of all-time?

Bill Belichick may be forced to get hilariously creative to fill his quarterback slot

Five MLB pitchers who need to be rescued from their teams

CFB Crash Course: Week 4 - No ranking is safe

Where does Landon Donovan's return rank among these notable athletes?

Five sports stadiums that should be renamed

WNBA playoffs head into second round after single eliminations

A 25-year award tour: Celebrating A Tribe Called Quest

YB Box Score: 9/23 - Win totals and the jobbing renaissance

WATCH: Is Anthony Davis the best Kentucky big man in the NBA?

NFL Kickoff: Week 3 - Pity the perpetually rebuilding Browns

Questions from reviewing the Vegas 2016-17 NBA win totals

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Where does Landon Donovan's return rank?

WATCH: What are the best WR-CB rivalries of all-time?

Bill Belichick may be forced to get hilariously creative to fill his quarterback slot

Five MLB pitchers who need to be rescued from their teams

Five sports stadiums that should be renamed

WNBA playoffs head into second round after single eliminations

CFB Crash Course: Week 4 - No ranking is safe

A 25-year award tour: Celebrating A Tribe Called Quest

WATCH: Is Anthony Davis the best Kentucky big man in the NBA?

A statistical trip thru Vin Scully’s extraordinary career

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker