Northern Illinois forced to pause during bye week

Northern Illinois forced to pause during bye week
September 3, 2013, 5:30 pm
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Vinnie Duber

Bye weeks can be both a blessing and a curse.

On the positive side, it's a day off, a break, a chance to rest. But, on the negative side, it can bring a screeching halt to a team on a roll. It can stop momentum in its tracks.

Northern Illinois will get to experience both of those this weekend, when it takes a bye week right after the first game of the season. The Huskies can rest after being thrown back into game action, but they also won't be able to get right back at it following a dramatic 30-27 win at Iowa.

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Quarterback Jordan Lynch alluded to both sides of the bye week coin Tuesday.

"It's a chance to get our legs back," Lynch said. "We'll get a chance to watch some college football, and we'll be anxious to get back out on the field."

For the Huskies, it's an unfortunate time to have to take a break. The most recent minutes of football they played were thrilling, as the defense intercepted Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock with a minute and a half left in the game then kicked a game-winning field goal with seconds left. The Huskies outscored Iowa, 13-3, in the second half, with those big plays coming in the fourth quarter. Lynch said the fourth quarter is when the Huskies really kick it into gear.

"One of the things we never do, we never flinch," Lynch said. "We always believe in the process or the journey. And we know when it comes to the fourth quarter and we have a chance, that's when we play, that's when we start to shine. We live for those opportunities."

[MORE NCAA: Good and bad as Fighting Illini head into Week 2]

Lynch wasn't among the quarterbacks who made headlines with their performances in college football's opening week — he wasn't mentioned with the likes of Clemson's Tajh Boyd, Florida State's Jameis Winston or Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater — but his 275 yards and three touchdowns through the air were still pretty fantastic.

Tuesday, though, Lynch heaped credit on his receivers. Four different Huskies pass-catchers caught four passes or more, with three going for 69 yards or more. Tommylee Lewis caught two touchdown throws from Lynch. It's a unit Lynch is very pleased with.

"I saw it all summer when I was working with them, and I saw it all fall camp," Lynch said. "I know what they're capable of doing, but I think they showed a lot of Northern Illinois fans and a lot of Iowa fans what they were capable of. I thought they did a real good job, and they make my job a lot easier at times."

[MORE NCAA: Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 1]

While the bye week allows for a little more time to revel in a big victory over a Big Ten opponent, it does prevent the Huskies from continuing their exciting start to the season. Still, Week 3 brings Northern Illinois' next game, a date with independent Idaho. Idaho was smoked by North Texas, 40-6, in their season-opener, and it goes up against an offensively prolific Wyoming team this weekend. A chance to rest up before seeing a seemingly inferior opponent could prove useful for the Huskies.

Northern Illinois takes on Idaho at 4 p.m. on Sept. 14 in the Gem State.

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