In case you missed it, the final score from Moscow, Idaho was NIU Huskies 45, Idaho Vandals 35.
It might be a good thing that this one wasn't on TV. It was almost like the Northern Illinois Huskies were playing in another country. ESPN didn't have stats. Neither did the Vandals website. You had to look extra hard for a radio feed (WLBK on TuneIn worked for me) and an online feed cost $10 to purchase. The only people watching this game were dedicated NIU fans, trust me.
When the media looks at this one, they're probably going to laugh, but they shouldn't. Yes, we knew that the trip to Moscow, Idaho would be insanely difficult.
Maybe there was some overconfidence coming into this one after the 30-27 Iowa win. I'm still thinking about that one. The Huskies ballooned into 30-pt favorites coming into this one. Idaho had gotten by two sub-par teams in their first week, but this was their first home game. The fans were packed in the Kibbie dome which can make some noise even if it isn't full, that's for sure. Not to mention the bye week rust the Huskies had. One week off to prepare for a team can help or hinder a team and it just made it extra tough for the Huskies.
Lynch, Lewis keep the offense afloat
This was an unusual game for Jordan Lynch. He was pressured and sacked for the first time of the season. He made some mental mistakes. Things didn't go well for the Huskies early on, but they kept trying and trying to get the running game going and they did eventually. This wasn't one of those games where the Huskies were trying for deep passes early on, which was interesting.
Lynch's final stats: 17-29 for 152 yds and 3 TDs through the air, 23 rushes for 176 yds and 2 TDs on the ground. That's 328 of the 508 total yds achieved by #6. The senior leader never lost composure. Not even when they were down 7-21 and we got those crazy penalties. Paul Petrino was the guy losing his mind on the sidelines. Maybe he should have taken note of how our QB was acting out there.
Tommylee Lewis returned in this one and made key plays finishing 4 rushes for 104 yds on the ground and 9 catches for 56 yds. Since you can't give Lynch player of the week every week, Lewis needs some serious attention. Da'Ron Brown was solid if unspectacular.
Cameron Stingily. Just a beast on the ground. He's really starting to do some special things. 13 carries for 63 yds and a TD was his final. Keith Harris was a sparkplug when he gets a chance to touch the ball.
Idaho fumbled the ball three times in this game. Lynch punched the ball in quickly int the first quarter to tie the game 7-7.
On a fake kick, Wedel would fumble the ball to Idaho. Idaho would fumble the ball at the end of the 3rd but Lynch would fumble it right back. What a bunch of ugly plays.
In the 4th, NIU would turn a Bass-forced fumble into a 49-yarder by Sims to put the Huskies up 38-35. Oh and let's not forget that right before that fumble was a blocked kick by Idaho. Just garbage mistakes. So basically it was a wash with 3 turnovers on each side.
Don't even get me started. 11 penalties for 107 yds hindered the Huskies immensely in this one. This was one of the biggest factors in Idaho keeping close.
Idaho didn't even get a chance to take advantage of their turnovers, really. The Huskie defense was garbage in the first half, but really managed to turn it around. Everybody on the defensive seven really stepped it up. I was hearing names like George Rainey all night. Perez Ford had 3 TFL. NIU had ELEVEN sacks. Rock Lemon. Jason Meehan. Jamaal Bass had a terrific game. Should be interesting to see who is attributed to what when the stats come out.
Learning from this game
Now they just need to start off with that aggression next week vs. Eastern Illinois who is actually going to be a tough opponent.
What would a blowout have accomplished in this one? Not much. Going into Idaho and having their backs against the wall was the best thing that could have happened to this team at this point in the season. They needed to wake up before facing EIU. Before facing Purdue. At this point the Panthers might even be the better team.
NIU went into Idaho and had everything fall apart. They still held onto the victory. Unbelievable. Just look at how much talent this team has. Yes, I might be overstating it a little bit because this is Idaho. Those penalties and mistakes in the secondary are beating ourselves.
I'm fine with this victory. Idaho may do something this season. Or they may not. Voters aren't going to like this game, but as long as the Huskies keep picking up wins in any way shape or form I could care less.