Out of all the 120 teams in Division I football, there is no team that I hate more than Toledo. Not one. Any self-respecting NIU fan will tell you the exact same thing. Some of the younger Huskie faithful will wonder why that exactly is the case.
BN (Before-Novak Era) we were 6-18 against the Rockets. Sure we never had consistently good teams, but that's when the Rockets started to own us. Joe Novak lost to Toledo 8 straight years before finally coming through @ their place in 2005. His overall record was 1-10 against UT, but both coaching staffs have changed and if last year is any trend the Huskies may have the upper hand in this series now.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana.
Here are the most heartbreaking losses to date:
2002: Toledo 33, NIU 30
In NIU's 'coming out year', the Huskies rallied back from a 1-3 non-conference slate to rally of 7 conference victories. Everything was setting up perfectly as we got the Rockets at home for the season finale. We were up 17-0 to start the game, but then the Rockets rallied back to beat the Huskies. It was a typical Toledo game flinging the ball all over the field and a signature Amstutz fake punt in the 3rd quarter. That overcame whatever NIU was able to do on offense with RB Michael Turner or WR Dan Sheldon. K Steve Azar just missed a 62-yarder with 15 mph winds to his back as the game ended. We finished 8-4 (7-1) that year with no Bowl Game and no MACC appearance. Official Recap, Box Score
2003: #21 NIU 30, Toledo 49
2003 was 'the year' as the Huskies were nationally ranked after beating the big boys in Maryland & Alabama. Everything was on the line in this game, as both teams came in with only 1 conference loss. This was for Northern Illinois not only to stay in the MAC West, but to get to a bowl game. Enter Toledo QB Bruce Gradkowski. The Sophomore at the time led his Rocket squad to an early 28-7 lead in the first half, something the Huskies just couldn't come back from. He finished with a 24 of 27 for 301 yds and 3 TDs performance. It didn't help that our QB Josh Haldi threw 3 INTs. No MACC or Bowl appearance, yet a 10-2 record to boot. Official Recap, Box Score
2004: Toledo 31, NIU 17
The infamous WOLFE-GATE game, where RB Garrett Wolfe tried to break up a fight 3 days before and suffered an eye injury that would keep him out of this all-important game. NIU was undefeated in-conference (AGAIN) and the MAC West title was on the line at home against the Rockets (sensing a theme here?). What happened? The offense sputtered and only produced a measly 180 yds compared to Toledo's 512. 297 of those were through the air by Gradkowski. UT RB Scooter "POINT SHAVER EXTRAORDINAIRE" McDougle rushed for 133 yds and 2 TDs. Can someone tell me why this game hasn't been awarded back to us? No MACC, but we backdoored our way in to an obscure bowl game that year in which we won. Official Recap, Box Score
2006: Toledo 17, NIU 13
In "The Fog Game", NIU was still pretty much in the race for the MAC West championship until the measly 3-6 Toledo Rockets came to town. This was just a strange, strange game. Horvath was benched for Nicholson at QB, Britt Davis had 163 yds receiving. Why in the world was Garrett Wolfe only getting 16 carries? It was almost like we didn't want to win this game. Official Recap, Box Score. How foggy was it? This foggy:
2007: NIU 20, Toledo 70
This was pretty much the lowest point of our 2-10 season. Some fans say that the Rockets ran up the score on us, but I think we were just that bad that year. My recaps were here and here. Both classic posts. Official Recap, Box Score.
Wow. If that didn't get you fired up to play the Rockets this weekend, I don't know what will.
Why do you hate Toledo?