Orange Bowl Head 2 Head: Part 1
Position Breakdowns -
Florida State — E.J. Manuel's favorite target this season has been sophomore Rashad Greene. Greene leads the Seminoles with 52 receptions for 696 yards and five touchdowns. With two touchdowns on punt returns and one on a rush, Greene became the first FSU player since Peter Warrick in 1999 to score three different ways in a season. Three other receivers have over 400 receiving yards, including — senior Rodney Smith (35 catches for 483 yards and three touchdowns), freshman Kelvin Benjamin (29 receptions for 482 reception yards and four scores) and junior Kenny Shaw (27 catches for 471 and three touchdowns).
Northern Illinois — Senior Martel Moore leads the Huskies with 71 receptions for 1,054 yards and 12 scores. Moore became the fifth NIU player to record a 1,000 yards receiving in a single season. He is averaging 81.1 yards per game and ranks 24th in the country in total receiving yards. Moore was named to the All-MAC first team. Also in the mix is sophomore Tommylee Lewis with 43 catches for 478 and five touchdowns. Senior Perez Ashford has 354 yards on 30 receptions.
Florida State — With a starting offensive that averages 319 pounds, the Seminoles are 24th in total offense — averaging 466.7 yards per game. Left tackle Cameron Erving, right guard Tre' Jackson and center Bryan Stork were listed to the All-ACC second team.
Northern Illinois — Helping set the way for the Huskies' high-scoring offense is their front set. NIU averages 40.8 points per game and 485.8 yards per game. Despite being without left tackle Tyler Loos — who suffered a season-ending injury — the seven-man rotation has allowed Lynch to set four NCAA FBS records and the rushing attack to rank ninth in the nation (250.2).
Florida State — Ranked fifth against the run (93.0 yards per game), the FSU defense is led by junior defensive end Bjoern Werner. Werner leads the Seminoles and the ACC with 13 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. For his efforts, Werner was named the 2012 ACC Defensive Player of the Year and a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski, Ted Hendricks, Lombardi and Bednarik awards. Cornelius “Tank” Carradine had been providing some serious pressure opposite Werner during the season with 11 sacks and 13 tackles for loss of his own, but was lost for the season in the Seminoles loss to Florida. Filling in is freshman Mario Edwards Jr., the top-rated prospect in Florida State’s 2012 recruiting class, who tallied seven tackles and a sack in his lone start this season.
Northern Illinois — The Huskies defensive front held Kent State to 70 yards rushing in the MAC Championship Game and is ranked 33rd in the country against the run. Defensive end Alan Baxter leads the line with 58 tackles and 9.5 sacks. Both Baxter and fellow end Sean Progar were named to the All-MAC first team. Progar was second on the team with 8.5 sacks. Clogging up the middle is a pair of big defensive tackles in Nabal Jefferson and Anthony Wells, who’ve also shown the ability to creak havoc in the backfield with five sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss combined.
Florida State — Junior Christian Jones leads the Seminoles with 85 tackles, including 47 unassisted. Named to the All-ACC second team, Jones recorded a team-best 14 tackles against NC State. Senior captain Vince Williams brings leadership and exceptional awareness to the position, and is fourth on the team with 49 tackles this season. Junior Telvin Smith rotates in the middle linebacker position with Williams, and ranks third on the team with 60 tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss.
Northern Illinois — Named to the All-MAC second team, senior Tyrone Clark is second on the team with 82 tackles — including 10 for a loss. In his career at NIU, Clark has recorded 174 tackles and five interceptions. Opposite Clark is redshirt sophomore Jamal Bass, who’s 76 tackles rank third on the Huskies. The South Florida native also has five tackles for loss and an interception this season. Roaming the middle is redshirt senior Victor Jacques, who tallied 44 tackles in just eight games this season.
Florida State — The Seminoles’ defense ranks third in passing defense, giving up 160.8 yards per game. Anchoring the secondary is three-year starting cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who was named to the All-ACC first team after recording three interceptions and breaking up seven passes this season. Safety Lamarcus Joyner, also named to the All-ACC first team, recorded 45 tackles, five pass breakups and one interception. ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year Ronald Darby is also a major contributor in the defensive backfield, tying Rhodes’ mark of seven pass break ups on the season.
Northern Illinois — The Huskies secondary is led by junior Jimmie Ward. Ward led the team with 90 tackles and three interceptions. Cornerback Rashaan Melvin had a team-high 17 pass breakups. With 20 career starts, senior Demetrius Stone has recorded 73 tackles and two interceptions. In all, the Huskies picked off 15 passes this season, tied for 23rd in college football, and allowed just 217.7 passing yards per game.