A few hours after being named the Mid-American Conference’s Vern Smith Leadership Award winner (MVP), Offensive Player of the Year and first team All-MAC quarterback, Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch received more good news when he was named one of 10 finalists for the Manning Award as the top college quarterback in the country.
Named in honor of the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning and sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the Manning Award is the only quarterback award that takes the candidates’ bowl performances into consideration in its balloting.
The Manning Award winner will be announced Wednesday, Jan. 9, after the bowls in January, and will be honored at a ceremony in New Orleans.
Lynch, the only finalist from a Mid-American Conference team, joins USC’s Matt Barkley, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Alabama’s AJ McCarron, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, Georgia’s Aaron Murray and West Virginia’s Geno Smith on the list. The group has a combined winning percentage of .846 with an overall record of 99-19.
Lynch is in the midst of one of the best rushing seasons ever by a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) quarterback. His dual-threat ability as a passer and runner has powered a Northern Illinois offense that averages 40.5 points per game. Individually, Lynch ranks third nationally in total offense, is fifth in rushing, 12th in passing efficiency and is responsible for 19.5 points per game. He averages 7.9 yards per play, third highest in the nation.
The Chicago native, who is a product of the same Mt. Carmel High School program as NFL Pro-Bowler Donovan McNabb, has set the NCAA record for consecutive 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback with 10 to destroy the previous mark of five straight 100-yard games. He became the first FBS quarterback ever to pass for 400 yards and rush for 150 in the same game when he threw for 407 yards on 25-of-36 passing and ran for 166 yards on 30 carries in NIU’s 31-24 win over Toledo.
Lynch needs 92 yards to break the NCAA record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a season. He has 2,750 passing and 1,611 rushing yards on the year.
Lynch’s total of 4,361 yards of total offense this year is second on the Huskies’ single season chart while his 39 touchdowns are tied for first with 2011 quarterback Chandler Harnish. He has completed 203-of-319 passes and averages 229.2 passing yards per game with 23 touchdown passes versus just four interceptions on the season. He has established a new Northern Illinois record for 100-yard rushing games in a season with 11, and for consecutive 100-yard rushing games with 10.
“We think we have another great group of quarterbacks as our finalists,” said Archie Manning.
“Once again, there were so many outstanding performances by so many different guys, this was very tough to decide on 10, and I’d like to thank our selection committee for their time and effort. But what this is really about is the players themselves and I want to thank them all for their hard work all season long. I’m very much looking forward to the conference championships and bowl games to really see who steps up in the big-game situations.”
Lynch leads No. 19 (AP)/18 (USA Today Coaches) Northern Illinois (11-1, 8-0) in a nationally televised ESPN2 match-up versus No. 18/19 Kent State (11-1, 8-0) Friday night, Nov. 30, in the Marathon MAC Championship game at Detroit’s Ford Field. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. (CT).