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Northern Illinois defeats Ball State, Lembo 41-38 in bizarre fashion

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This was by far the oddest game of the season. The game started out a lot like the Central Michigan with NIU falling behind early, but it wasn't a complete breakdown on all three phases of the game. Two fumbles put the Cardinals up 14-0 early, a deficit NIU would spend most of the game trying to come back from.

Ball State wouldn't go away in the worst way possible. The times NIU wouldn't produce on offense, they took advantage. NIU constantly shot themselves in the foot with stupid penalties (9 for 107 yds) and the Cardinals took advantage of every single opportunity. Field position was a huge deal in this one, and Punter Scott Kovanda had a 68 yd run of his own in the third quarter.

This game can be broken down so many different ways, but it all comes down to how well Ball State head coach Pete Lembo prepared his team for this one. It was LemboBall™ at it's finest. He decisively out-coached Doeren well past their strong first half. The fake punt was huge, and Doeren responded with a nearly recovered onside kick of their own.

Ball State got pressure on Harnish and even sacked him a couple times, which is a rarity. The Cardinals made plays when it mattered. They confused and slowed NIU's offense just enough to take advantage.

The last two drives for the Huskies were stunning and I can't believe NIU pulled out the victory. The Huskies out-gained the Cardinals 710 to 398 and only won by three points. That is remarkable.

The Huskies now have 10 days to prepare for Eastern Michigan on the Friday after Thanksgiving. They dodged a bullet in this one, thanks to the offense refusing to quit and the defense making plays when it counted.

Past NIU teams don't win games like this one has and I can't wait for this team to get another shot in the MAC Championship.