Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch picked a bad time to play his worst game of the season.
With NIU's BCS hopes on the line and his Heisman campaign gaining momentum, Lynch tossed two picks and completed barely 50 percent of his passes (21 of 40) Friday night as Bowling Green rolled past the Huskies 47-27 in the MAC championship game.
Lynch did run for 126 yards and two scores and also threw a TD pass, but Bowling Green scored first and controlled the game throughout. The Falcons turned a Lynch interception into a TD late in the first half for a 31-13 halftime lead and cruised home from there. Lynch also threw an interception early in the fourth quarter, and his two rushing TDs came in the second half, including one with 14 seconds left in the game.
NIU fell out of BCS contention, and instead now will end the season in something like the GoDaddy.com or Poinsettia bowls. As for Lynch's Heisman hopes? Voters looking to put him No. 1 wouldn't have been impressed. Lynch was off-target with his passes most of the game, throwing high, low and wide, and his 4.8 yards per rushing attempt was his third-lowest of the season and his worst since late September.
His 40 passing attempts were the third-most in his career; he had 41 in a win over Iowa this season and a loss to Florida State in last season's Orange Bowl.
Lynch did, as usual, show some toughness and shiftiness on his runs, and some teams likely will find him an intriguing prospect at a different position. Lynch lacks height (he is listed at 6 feet) and arm strength, and conventional wisdom is he can't play quarterback at the next level.
While Friday was his worst game of the season, he has played 12 good ones. During the contest, Lynch set a single-season rushing record for FBS quarterbacks; he now has 1,881 yards, breaking his record of 1,815 set last season. He is bidding to become the first player in FBS history with 2,000 rushing yards and 2,000 passing yards in NCAA history.
In addition, he is 191 yards short of tying former Michigan star Denard Robinson's career rushing record for quarterbacks. Robinson, who was a four-year starter, ran for 4,495. Lynch, who has started for just two seasons, has 4,304.
Friday's performance was Lynch's eighth 100-yard game of the season and the eighth consecutive game in which he has at least one rushing touchdown. He is third nationally with 22 rushing touchdowns.
Bowling Green sophomore Matt Johnson was the quarterback star on the night. He threw for 393 yards and five TDs in carving up Northern Illinois' secondary.
NIU's loss opens the door for a potential BCS bid for Oregon or Baylor (if the Bears beat Texas on Saturday but don't win the Big 12); it also strengthens Clemson's case. Had NIU made it into the BCS, it almost certainly would've been in the Fiesta Bowl. Now it looks as if UCF, which already has clinched the AAC's automatic BCS berth, could be headed to the Fiesta.