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NIU's Lynch headed to New York as Heisman finalist

Published: Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 6:30 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 12:09 a.m. CDT

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DeKALB – Jordan Lynch is on his way to New York.

The Northern Illinois senior quarterback was named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy award on Monday. He will join Auburn running back Tre Mason, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Boston College running back Andre Williams.

It is the first time since 1994 that more than five finalists have been chosen to attend the presentation ceremony, which will be held at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square on Saturday at 7 p.m. CST. 

Lynch led the Huskies to a 12-1 record this season and a berth in the Poinsettia Bowl. He broke his own single-season record for rushing yards by a FBS quarterback with 1,881 yards and has accounted for a school-record 46 touchdowns this season.

Lynch finished seventh in the voting last year after leading the Huskies to the first Bowl Championship Series bowl game in program history where they lost to Florida State, 31-10, in the Orange

HEISMAN HISTORY AND PROCESS

The Heisman Memorial Trophy is named in honor of long-time college football coach John W. Heisman, who was also the athletic director of the New York Downtown Athletic Club.

The trophy is 13.5 inches tall, weighs 45 lbs, and is cast in bronze while the model for the trophy was Ed Smith, a player for New York University in 1934. The award has been given out every year since 1935.

The award "recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity."

The Heisman Trophy is given out based on points tabulated from 928 ballots. Of those 928 ballots, 870 are media members equally split from six regions (Far West, Mid Atlantic, Mid West, North East, South, South West) of the country. Every former Heisman winner still living also has a vote, totaling 57, and the final ballot is based on a national online fan vote.

Each voter picks their top 3 choices for the Heisman Trophy in order, with the top selection gaining three points, second selection earning two points and the final selection getting one point.

Total points are then tabulated to declare a winner.

MID-MAJORS AND THE HEISMAN

Lynch becomes the first player in NIU history to be named a finalist for the Heisman. The Huskies have had standout players in the past, but none of them made it to New York. NIU running back LeShon Johnson finished sixth in 1993 despite leading the nation in rushing and Michael Turner failed to crack the top 10 during NIU's 10-2 season in 2003.

In addition to Lynch's staggering numbers, he likely also benefitted from national television exposure over the last four weeks of the season, something that Johnson and Turner didn't have when they played with the Huskies. NIU played in primetime midweek slots on ESPN2 for the last three regular season games against Ball State, Toledo and Western Michigan and also during the MAC Championship vs. Bowling Green.

The last two players from the MAC to be named a finalist for the Heisman were Marshall wide receiver Randy Moss in 1997 and Marshall quarterback Chad Pennington in 1999. Moss finished fourth behind Peyton Manning, Ryan Leaf and Charles Woodson while Pennington was fifth, placing behind Ron Dayne, Joe Hamilton, Drew Brees and Michael Vick

After the turn of the century, the MAC has placed several players in the top 10 of the voting, but none were invited to New York for the final ceremony. Marshall's Byron Leftwich finished sixth in 2002 while Miami (Ohio) quarterback Ben Roethlisberger placed ninth in 2003. Ball State QB Nate Davis was eighth in 2008.

Other recent mid-major players have had their turn at the Heisman ceremony, including Hawaii's Colt Brennan, who finished third in 2008, the highest finish for a non-AQ player in the Bowl Championship Series era, and Boise State's Kellen Moore, who finished fourth in 2010. The last player from a mid-major program to win the Heisman Trophy was BYU QB Ty Detmer in 1990.

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