Between Brett Smith, David Fales and Derek Carr, Utah State has seen its fair share of talented passers. But the latest quarterback the Aggies face may well be the best.
Senior quarterback Jordan Lynch was named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy on Monday, an expected move for a quarterback who has amassed 4,557 total yards and 46 total touchdowns this year. He led Northern Illinois (12-1, 8-1) to the Poinsettia Bowl, where the Huskies will face Utah State on Dec. 26.
The Aggies will face a quarterback who got to fly to New York for the Heisman ceremony. Talk about pressure.
"Shoot, I saw him play last year as a junior," USU coach Matt Wells said. "We saw him quite a bit when we were preparing for Toledo, on that tape. He is a physical, downhill runner. They'll have a lot of QB run game, some out of constricted sets, some out of empty sets. And he's very accurate throwing the football."
Lynch can chuck it. He has completed 63.1 percent of his passes while throwing 23 touchdowns against seven picks, averaging 205.8 yards through the air per game.
But his Heisman campaign has been built on his ability to run. He powers the Huskies' fifth-ranked rushing offense, running for 144.7 yards per game. With 1,881 yards, Lynch broke the FBS quarterback single-season rushing record this year a record that he previously held. He's gone over 300 yards in on the ground in two games this season.
Junior linebacker Zach Vigil compared Lynch to another quarterback Utah State faced and struggled with this year: Taysom Hill.
"He's a very physical runner," Vigil said. "He's a big guy."
Larsen named finalist
Utah State's most experienced veteran has long been a preseason candidate for an award at his position, but he's finally gotten a nod for a season-long body of work.
Senior center Tyler Larsen is a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, annually awarded to the top center in the country. He's one of six candidates, including Auburn's Reese Dismukes, Oregon's Hroniss Grasu, Oklahoma's Gabe Ikard, Florida State's Bryan Stork, and Arkansas' Travis Swanson.
With 51 straight starts under his belt, Larsen has been a leader on an offensive line that has helped Utah State persist despite significant injuries. Although the line struggled to protect in the Mountain West championship, Larsen has been one of the team's most consistent performers on an otherwise injury-riddled unit.
Larsen is a two-time first-team all-conference honoree. He's hunting for his third such honor this year.
Senior linebacker Jake Doughty was named the College Football Performance Awards national defensive player of the week. He had 10 tackles and recovered a fumble that resulted in an 86-yard touchdown. â¦ One of several connections between Northern Illinois and Utah State is Huskies offensive coordinator Bob Cole. The leader of the nation's No. 5-ranked total offense held the same job with the Aggies between 2000 and 2004.
P Utah State vs. No. 23 Northern Illinois at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Dec. 26, 7:30 p.m. TV • ESPN