But Lynch deserves a lot of credit for leading a very productive offense even if he, himself, was not overly efficient. Northern Illinois was one of eight teams to top 3 points per possession. They did this by compounding good starting field position (66.4 yards from end zone) with 38.4 yards per possession (15th best nationally) and 70% TDs in the red zone. The formula for success was an efficient running game (6th in EPA/rush, 12th in negative run rate) joined by some explosive pass plays (11th nationally). Akeem Daniels turned in an EPA of 31.2 on only 68 carries. He was 2nd among running backs in schedule adjusted EPA per carry. And he didn't have more than four carries until game 11.
The defense was adequate, 25th in points per possession, but could have been better. It excelled in the red zone, prevented explosive plays, and was generally solid across the board (more so against the pass than the run), but they didn't get stops on 3rd down and allowed a whopping 6.5 plays per possession. Among other things, this allowed opponents to run off 2:40 per possession, keeping Lynch and Co. on the bench.
There's no reason to believe Northern Illinois can't replicate their 2012 success. And Jordan Lynch has room to improve and will get 600 opportunities to make that improvement pay off. On the other hand, 12-1 and a BCS bowl berth demands some lucky bounces and close wins.
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