Discover Orange Bowl - Northern Illinois v Florida State

College football is just a couple of months away, which means it’s the season for Heisman campaigns. There’s the obvious parties in the running, like incumbent Texas A&M quarterback, Johnny Manziel. There’s also the self-aggrandizing types like Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk, who told the Sporting News back in December, “I’m going to win the Heisman. I’m going to win it in 2013″. We also have the anti-Heisman campaign campaign, like we’ve seen from Teddy Bridgewater out of Louisville.

Now we have the improbable Mid-American Conference Heisman candidate campaign, which is what Northern Illinois has launched in support of senior quarterback Jordan Lynch.

Lynch led the Northern Illinois Huskies to 12-2 record last year, punctuated by a MAC title. Lynch and the Huskies would later fall to Florida State in the Orange Bowl, but his play over the season helped vault the Huskies into a top-25 finish. Lynch would finish sixth in Heisman voting in 2012, behind Manziel, Manti Te’o, Collin Klein, Marqise Lee and Braxton Miller. It was the highest finish for a MAC talent since Byron Leftwich landed at sixth with Marshall in 2002. Fellow Marshall alums, Randy Moss (fourth) and Chad Pennington (fifth), represent the only MAC players to ever receive an invite to New York for the award presentation.

The odds can be much more difficult to overcome when you’re running out against the likes of Akron, UMASS, Buffalo, and every directional designation Michigan has to offer, as opposed to the heavyweights of the south.

While Lynch’s numbers from last season speak for themselves (3,138 yards passing with a 60.2% completion rate, 25 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, plus another 1,815 yards on the ground and 19 rushing touchdowns), he’s not likely to win the award. It’s not so much that Lynch can’t equal, or even improve upon, his gaudy 2012 totals, but the schedule advantage that the MAC affords him will make it difficult for voters to hold him in the same regard as the talents coming out of the SEC, Big 12, and B1G.

Lynch’s limbs should enable him to put up some impressive numbers, and help Northern Illinois challenge for another MAC title, that much is a given. However, his Heisman candidacy will ultimately come down to how his fellow competitors perform or potentially stumble. Even with the rise of Northern Illinois, Kent State, and Bowling Green, the MAC lacks the firepower to propel Lynch into the national spotlight that he deserves. If anything, we’ve got ourselves a nice little feel-good narrative to which we can tie our horses.

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