Welcome to South Florida
Florida State Seminoles arrived in Fort Lauderdale for the 2013 Discover Orange Bowl.
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FSU Arrival Video
NIU Arrival Video
With the holiday season wrapping up, both Northern Illinois and Florida State arrived in South Florida on Wednesday in preparation for the 2013 Discover Orange Bowl on Tuesday, Jan. 1.
Northern Illinois, who knocked off 17th-ranked Kent State in the MAC title game is the league's first school to earn a BCS bowl berth.
The Huskies (12-1) will play in a bowl game for a school-record fifth straight season.
"You can feel the excitement," Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey said Wednesday. "A couple of us coaches were talking when we landed saying 'well it just became real.' So far it's been this way off in the distance... Now we're at the Orange Bowl, and we're excited."
This marks the first meeting between the two programs, with Florida State holding a 4-0 record against teams from the MAC.
The Seminoles (11-2), who have made 31 consecutive bowl appearance, will be participating in its ninth Orange Bowl game and first since the 2005 season. FSU beat Georgia Tech 21-15 in the ACC Championship Game to clinch the league's automatic BCS bid.
"It's the first time we've been here in seven," FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "To be able to win a conference championship and have an opportunity to win our first BCS game in 12, I think it's a huge step and I think we've taken a lot of steps this year to get back in that national promise."
Despite the different paths each team took to get to Sun Life Stadium, there's an energy that exudes from the players and coaches as they look forward to enjoying the rewards of a grueling and successful season.
"[It's] kind of surreal," Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch said, "a dream come true for most of us. We are really excited for game time, to check the city out, and go play the game."
Lynch, a Heisman Trophy candidate helped guide the Huskies to 12 consecutive wins after losing the season opener by one-point to Iowa. Lynch is considered the most productive dual-threat quarterback in the nation with 2,962 passing yards and 1,773 rushing yards and 43 touchdowns.
The Huskies have won 21 of their last 22 games.
"He's very unique to himself," Fisher described Lynch. "He's very tough and rugged. We try to compare players all the time, but to carry the ball that many times on a leg and not be injured, to create the inside runs that he does and still create the passes. He's very unique to himself."
Lynch and NIU's offense will tussle against an FSU defense that statically ranks second nationally in total defense (253.77 yards per game), while ranking fifth against the run (93.00 yards per game) and third against the pass (160.77 yards per game). Junior defensive end Bjoern Werner leads the Seminoles with 13 sacks and 18 tackles for loss.
The Huskies and Seminoles will spend the next week in South Florida getting ready for the Orange Bowl.