Not to be confused with the BCS Championship game happening January 7, this year’s Orange Bowl, played New Year’s Day at Sun Life Stadium (347 Don Shula Dr., Miami Gardens) will pit perennial powerhouse Florida State University against first-time BCS challenger Northern Illinois University. FSU finds itself in the game by default after winning the Atlantic Coast Conference with a weak schedule and subpar conference competition. The Noles began the year ranked in the top ten and strongly considered to have national championship possibilities. By year’s end, they find themselves ranked 12th after what many consider a disappointing season. Then there’s the Northern Illinois University Huskies, the feel-good college football story of the BCS. The Huskies were unranked until week 13 and are now the first Mid-American Conference team in a BCS bowl game after finishing the season ranked higher than the Big East and Big Ten champions. They’re led by junior quarterback Jordan Lynch, who drew some strong Heisman consideration this season. Still, many observers are predicting the game to be a one-sided affair, but NIU has a big enough chip on its shoulder to prove the experts wrong.
Tue., Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m., 2013