DeKALB – Despite the lunch bags and notebooks bearing his name, the Heisman trophy campaign is something Northern Illinois University quarterback Jordan Lynch doesn’t think much about.
“I don’t even think about the Heisman until you guys (the media) ask me about it,” Lynch said at the Huskies’ preseason media day. Last year, he finished seventh in the voting for the prestigious award. “The main focus isn’t the Heisman. It’s to win games first.”
Lynch admitted he was nervous entering the season opener against Iowa last year, his first college start. But it didn’t seem to take him long to get over it, as he set four NCIC records and 13 NIU records for rushing and passing.
In leading the Huskies to 13 straight wins last year, Lynch rushed for 100 yards or more in a game 12 times, including 11 in a row as he became the first NCAA player to pass for more than 3,000 yards and rush for 1,500 yards in the same season.
“He is better than he was last year,” NIU head coach Rod Carey said. “He is one of our hardest workers. ...He doesn’t shy away from challenges.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Huskies is all the attention they’ve garnered by winning back to back Mid-American Conference titles, as well as earning their first trip to the Orange Bowl, which ended in a 31-10 loss to Florida State.
“We have a target on our backs,” Lynch said. “But we did last year, too.”
This year, NIU is helped by the return of its entire offensive line, plus an increase in speed among backs and receivers.
“It’ll make it hard for people to match up against us,” Lynch said. “We just have to run our offense. ...It’s whatever the defense gives us that day.”
The NIU senior brushed off comparisons to his junior season and to former NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish, who was drafted by the Colts.
“I’m not trying to match any numbers I did last year,” he said. “The biggest thing I’m trying to do is to win the games. If we can win, everything will take care of itself. We just need to stay hungry and humble.”
The Huskies will play in Idaho on Sept. 14 before hosting Eastern Illinois University at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21.