Lynch builds Heisman credentials

DeKALB – Jordan Lynch has had an outstanding season.

The Northern Illinois junior quarterback’s numbers are well-documented, and his team has won as NIU took home another Mid-American Conference title and earned an Orange Bowl berth.

Though Lynch, who led the nation with 4,733 yards of total offense, was left out of tonight’s Heisman Trophy ceremony, his season certainly won’t be forgotten in DeKalb.

There are three finalists – Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Kansas State QB Collin Klein and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.

But, there shouldn’t be any drama tonight, assuming the Heisman voters have their heads straight. Manziel has been the best player in college football, with his 3,419 passing yards and 24 touchdowns to go with 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground.

Even when I was watching Lynch put up video game numbers this season, I still thought it was a long shot for him to go to New York, even with the Heisman campaign the athletic department started for him midseason.

Let’s face it, it’s tough for any non-AQ player to win an award like this, or even get invited as a finalist. So, it’s certainly not shocking to see Lynch left out of tonight’s festivities.

Here’s what came to my mind when all this talk started. Lynch probably wouldn’t get serious consideration now, but this will help his chances next year, when he could make a run.

When the Huskies open the season against Iowa at Kinnick Stadium next season, Lynch will have the name recognition. People will have heard about his crazy numbers. This season, the average college football fan didn’t even know who he was until late in the season after he kept putting up insane stats week after week.

Next year, he’ll have some hype before the season starts, and he’ll have an entire offensive line and stable of running backs returning, even though the loss of wide receivers Martel Moore and Perez Ashford will hurt.

And all of this was on my mind before I knew NIU had any shot of playing in the Orange Bowl. On Jan. 1, fans around the country will be able to see Lynch in action on national TV against a Florida State defense that is one of the best in the country.

Next year is a long way away, however. For now, Lynch is just glad he can focus on the bowl game instead of the Heisman talk.

“I guess I don’t have to do any more interviews about the Heisman talk or anything like that,” Lynch said. “I was always focused on the team, and now I can really be focused on the team.”

Who knows. Maybe with a strong performance against the Seminoles and another crazy year statwise for a team that should make another run at a MAC title, Lynch will earn his trip to New York in 2013.

• Steve Nitz is the Northern Illinois beat writer for the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb. Write to him at snitz@shawmedia.com.

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