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NIU's Lynch left out of Heisman ceremony

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Rob Winner — rwinner@shawmedia.com Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch (6) carries the ball for a 5-yard gain during the third quarter in DeKalb, Ill., Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. NIU defeated Toledo, 31-24.

Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch has had an outstanding season.

However, he wasn't named as one of the three Heisman Trophy finalists Monday, and Lynch won't be headed to New York.

Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel, Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o and Kansas St. QB Collin Klein were named the finalists. The Heisman Trophy will be presented Saturday at 7 p.m. CST at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square.

Lynch leads the nation with 4,733 yards of total offense, and has helped NIU to a 12-1 record, Mid-American Conference championship and a berth in the Orange Bowl.

The Chicago native has completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 2,962 yards and 29 touchdowns, and has run for a nation-leading 1,771 yards, including 19 touchdowns. Last week, Lynch won the Vern Smith Leadership Award as the MAC MVP, and was also named the conference's Offensive Player of the Year.

In Friday's MAC Championship Game, Lynch ran for 160 yards, and broke Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson's FBS single-season record for rushing yards by a QB.

Despite the fact he put up outstanding numbers this season, Lynch was hurt by playing in the MAC rather than a BCS conference, where he would play tougher competition and get more exposure. While he received more recognition as the season went on, including a Heisman Trophy campaign by NIU, in the end it wasn't enough.

Last week, former NIU head coach Dave Doeren, who accepted the head coaching job at N.C. State Saturday, sent out a letter to Heisman voters in support of the quarterback.

"I have a great deal of respect for coach Doeren doing that," Lynch said last week. "Just the belief, the trust factor he has in me, how good of a player I am."

Doeren had been on Lynch's Heisman bandwagon all along. After watching the quarterback account for six touchdowns in a win over Western Michigan on Oct. 27, Doeren told the Daily Chronicle the quarterback should get Heisman consideration, and he reiterated the thought throughout the season.

"I'm going to tell you, I think the guy should be on the Heisman list," Doeren said that day in Kalamazoo, Mich. "The guy's close to breaking the all-time record for quarterbacks in rushing. Throws four touchdowns, runs for two, averages 130-plus (rushing yards) per game. He doesn't turn the football over, he's playing so hard."

The highest an NIU player has finished in the Heisman balloting is sixth place. Former running back LeShon Johnson accomplished the feat in 1993. Former NIU running back Michael Turner was 18th in 2003 and running back Garrett Wolfe was 11th in 2006.

Lynch still has a year of eligibility remaining. Maybe his strong 2012 season, and playing on national television on New Year's Day will help his case in 2013.

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