What Happened Last Night: Northern Illinois Couldn’t Hang With Florida State, And The Clippers’ Streak Ended
Well, that absolute joke of a BCS game happened last night, for one thing. Bunch of NBA games did, too. But you want to know what happened, not just that they happened, right? Well, read on, friends.
Northern Illinois can’t pull the upset.
Oh, they made it interesting. Despite being dominated in yardage gained, underdog Northern Illinois, whose inclusion in the Orange Bowl Kirk Herbstreit railed against when the selection was announced (though the Huskies merely dd what they had to do to get an automatic berth under the current rules), pulled to within 17-10 of Florida State in the middle of the third quarter last night. Then, they did an onside kick – and recovered. Now it was serious. The Huskies put a couple first downs together. They were at least in field goal range. The possibility of a Boise-style fairy tale triumph was tantalizing.
And then NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch threw an interception, and it was never quite that serious again. Florida State scored two unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and that was that. It was a game effort from Northern Illinois, but a deserved win for the ‘Noles. They were clearly the better team, outgaining the Huskies by more than 2-to-1 and neutralizing Lynch, the team’s best and most important player. He was just 15-for-41 passing and ran for only 44 yards after completing over 60 percent of his passes on the year and running for over 100 yards in every game but one. Really, with Lynch struggling that badly, the amazing thing as that his team kept it close as long as it did.
As for Florida State, while this probably won’t be looked at as a signature win since Northern Illinois isn’t a big name, an Orange Bowl win is a nice capper to an excellent 12-2 season no matter who’s on the other side. The transition from Bobby Bowden to Jimbo Fisher was messy, but Fisher has the program in a much better spot than it was during the latter Bowden years. In an ACC so mediocre in football overall, the ‘Noles look poised to dominate for the foreseeable future.
The Clippers can’t win ‘em all.
Well, you knew the Clippers’ winning streak would end sometime, and we guess a road game against the inconsistent, but always dangerous (especially at home) Nuggets was as good a time as any for the streak to end. Denver dominated the team with the NBA’s best record last night, using a 27-16 third quarter to pull away in a 92-78 win. Poor shooting in general doomed the Clippers (38.5 percent overall, 5-for-29 from three, and perhaps worst of all, just 44.8 percent on free throws), while the Nuggets used a balanced attack to their advantage – no Nugget scored more than 17, but six players reached double figures. Sounds a bit like how their vanquished opponent has achieved so much success this year, actually.
And while we’re sure the Clippers fought hard to the end and never gave up hope until time constraints actually made it impossible for them to win and blah blah blah, once this happened, they had to figure “OK, we had a good run, we’ll get ‘em next time,” no?
Around the Association…
Amar’e Stoudemire’s return failed to spark the Knicks, who lost to the Trail Blazers 105-100. The Knicks fell behind big early, then made it interesting at the end thanks to Carmelo Anthony (45 points) going nuts, but it wasn’t enough. The Lakers still have tons of work to do – they lost 103-99 to the Sixers, followed by Kobe (36 points, but took 29 shots to do it) complaining about how old they are. And in other action, the Mavs beat the Wizards 103-94 (Dirk had 11 points in 17 minutes, his best outing so far this season), the no-longer-terrible Pistons beat the Kings 103-97, and the Hawks topped the very much terrible Hornets 95-86. Eric Gordon’s back, though, so there’s that.
Sugar Bowl tonight.
Who ya got? Oh, who are we kidding, of course you’re picking Florida. But it’d be something if Charlie Strong’s squad sprang the upset on the school where he served as an assistant for so long, wouldn’t it?
Photos via Getty