Associated Press

Utah State looks to win back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history against No. 21 Northern Illinois and Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.

Here's a look at several key factors to the bowl game.

Kraig Williams is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be followed on Twitter @DesNewsKraig.

Poinsettia Bowl at a glance
Associated Press

Utah State vs. Northern Illinois

Thursday, 7:30 p.m. MST

Qualcomm Stadium (66,000)


Radio: Utah State Sports Network/ESPN Radio

Weather: Clear with temperatures in the high 60s

The stakes
Tom Smart

For Northern Illinois … To prove that its only loss against Bowling Green in the MAC title game was a fluke and a chance to send Heisman Trophy finalist senior quarterback Jordan Lynch out with a win.

For Utah State … A chance to win back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history.

The trends
Associated Press

For Northern Illinois … The Huskies were a perfect 12-0 before falling 47-27 to Bowling Green in the MAC title game in their last time out.

For Utah State … The Aggies have given up 10 points or less in four of their last six contests.

Who will win?
Matt Gade

Northern Illinois will win if … Lynch and the Husky offense can turn the game into a shootout.

Utah State will win if … The Aggie defense can continue its stellar play and freshman Darell Garretson can play composed in the biggest game of his young career.

Player to watch
Ravell Call

Jake Doughty, Utah State: The senior linebacker is ninth in the nation in tackles and will be a key in the Aggies' efforts to slow down Lynch.

Key matchup
Matt Gade

Utah State offensive line vs. Northern Illinois defensive line: For the Aggies to keep up with the Huskies, the offensive line must give Garretson time to throw and open up holes for the running game.

Injury report
Matt Gade

Northern Illinois: WR Angelo Sebastiano (leg) — questionable. OL Tyler Loos (leg), RB Akeem Daniels (foot), RB Keith Harris Jr. (ankle), CB Mackie Hayes (concussion) — out

Utah State: S Maurice Alexander (hand) — questionable. WR Travis Reynolds (knee), RB Joe Hill (knee), OL Kevin Whimpey (knee), D.J. Tialavea (leg), QB Chuckie Keeton (knee) — out