Tim Semisch and his Northern Illinois teammates made an exception to their rule following the MAC championship game earlier this month.
“We’ve always operated on a 24-hour rule since I’ve been here — win or lose, you move on after 24 hours,” said Semisch, a Millard North graduate who plays tight end for the Huskies. “But that one kind of stung. We were so excited to have another opportunity to go back to the BCS. It hurt us hard the first couple of nights. It was more like 48 hours before we moved past it.”
Northern Illinois was undefeated and ranked 14th in the BCS standings heading into its conference championship game against Bowling Green. But the Huskies never led as the Falcons rolled to a 47-27 win.
Northern Illinois’ consolation prize? The Huskies will face Utah State in the Poinsettia Bowl. Kickoff will be at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in San Diego.
Semisch and the Huskies got a taste of a BCS bowl game last season when they played in the Orange Bowl, losing 31-10 to Florida State.
“On offense, we only lost two receivers, so we felt we had enough weapons to do roughly what we did last year,” said Semisch, a junior who transferred from UNO in 2011 after the Mavericks dropped their program.
Northern Illinois averaged 38.6 points and 469.6 yards per game last season. This year, the Huskies average 41.6 points and 535.5 yards per game and started 12-0.
The offense is spearheaded by quarterback Jordan Lynch, who finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting. Lynch rushed for 1,881 yards, passed for 2,676 and had a hand in 46 touchdowns. He’s accounted for 65 percent of Northern Illinois’ offense.
“We knew our first option was Jordan,” Semisch said. “We like to run the offense through him first. It was working all year, so if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
Semisch’s role in the offense has expanded. Counted on mostly as a blocker, the 6-foot-8, 266-pound Semisch caught three passes in his first two seasons. This season, Semisch caught seven passes for 84 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown against Purdue.
Semisch, who said he was in on about 30 plays against both Iowa and Purdue, also has split out as a wide receiver. There’s even a formation where he lines up as a fullback.
“I felt I was more involved in the offense,” Semisch said. “Overall, I don’t feel like I’m just a hand-in-the-ground tight end any more. I’m more of an athlete.”
A victory Thursday would give Northern Illinois a single-season record 13 wins. In Semisch’s three seasons with the Huskies, the program has compiled a 35-6 record.
“It’s been a great experience,” Semisch said. “It’s fun for everyone involved. Everyone is happy to be at the facility and be part of it.”