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VIEWS: Lynch, Huskies making clutch plays seem ordinary

Published: Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 12:29 a.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 12:33 a.m. CST
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(Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Running Back James Spencer drags a defenseman in the first quarter against Ball State on Wednesday, November 13, 2013.

DeKALB – Ball State’s Jonathan Newsome will watch the film and wonder how Jordan Lynch stayed up.

Instead of emphatically tossing Lynch to the ground, Newsome, a defensive end, was only able to throw Lynch forward as the senior quarterback stayed up long enough to gain another first down.

An arm tackle has rarely taken Lynch down over his career. This time an entire body tackle couldn’t even do the trick. 

The highlight-reel play kept alive a drive that ultimately finished with NIU taking a second-half lead and the Huskies would go on to win, 48-27, keeping their perfect record and Bowl Championship Series hopes in tact for yet another week.

NIU fans have come to expect the best of Lynch every game. It’s no longer a surprise when he records more than 400 total yards of offense or accounts for five touchdowns in a game, running, passing or even receiving.

These performances have now become merely an expectation ever since he showed he was a more-than-capable starter early in the 2012 season.

But each game the senior quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate – yes, Heisman candidate – seems to do something that amazes. Something that he hasn’t done before or nobody has seen before.

The play on Newsome was Wednesday’s #MACtion edition, even though you can fill a weekly Top 10 with Lynch’s exploits.

Pressure situations have yet to faze Lynch and NIU. Instead, the Huskies thrive in them, making comeback victories and clutch plays seemingly no big deal.

Down by seven at halftime, the Huskies outscored Ball State, 28-3, in the final 30 minutes. It was a performance eerily similar to the Toledo and Ball State victories from 2012, both of which featured second-half comebacks.

The NIU defense continued its season-long trend of after-halftime improvements and made its biggest play on Ball State running back Jahwan Edwards, who punished NIU’s defense for three quarters but was stopped for a loss on 4th and 1 with four minutes left.

If the Mid-American Conference owns midweek games, then NIU is almost single-handedly responsible for #MACtion. The Huskies have now won eight consecutive midweek games, dating back to 2010 and they’ll have two more to close out the 2013 regular season.

Mention last year’s Orange Bowl defeat to Florida State if you want, but NIU has turned from a program that was characterized by the plays it missed into a team that seemingly lives for late-game situations with the game in the balance.

With the MAC West title on the line, and in front of an ESPN national television audience, NIU kept alive its quest for another late-season trip to Detroit and, with some luck, another BCS bowl bid.

Now just do the same thing, under the same circumstances, once again Wednesday in the Glass Bowl against Toledo.

No big deal.

Ross Jacobson is the sports editor of the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via e-mail at rjacobson@shawmedia.com or follow him on Twitter @RossJacobson.

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