The Northern Illinois Huskies weren't supposed to win but it wasn't supposed to be this bad! NIU must hate San Diego after losing their fourth straight bowl game and third Poinsettia Bowl in nine years. The Huskies were crushed by the Broncos 55-7 in the Poinsettia Bowl. NIU is also now 0-3 in Poinsettia Bowl games, losing in 2006, 2013, and today.
NIU struggled on both sides of the ball, as the Broncos cruised to an easy win in the Poinsettia Bowl. The Huskies offense was non-existent and managed just 33 yards all game...in fact, Boise State had more points than the Huskies had yards (55 points to NIU's 33 yards).
Boise State exploded to an early lead and never looked back. Their first possession lasted just three plays and ended in less than a minute: 3 plays, 75 yards, and a touchdown in 48 seconds. From there the Broncos ran away with the game, scoring on each of their first three possessions and building a huge 31-7 lead by halftime.
The Huskies fumbled three times in the first half (all recovered by Boise) and managed less than 50 yards the entire game. But there was one bright spot for NIU as, midway through the second quarter, Aregeros Turner returned a kickoff 95-yards for a touchdown, to make the score 24-7. Sadly, it would not get any closer.
The Huskies were out-gained 654-33 by the Broncos, managed just seven first downs (compared to Boise's 35), and were 1-12 on third down. NIU, who is known for its rushing attack, couldn't even find a yard on the ground. The Huskies totaled -5 yards on 30 carries...something no one saw coming.
Backup quarterback Ryan Graham, was 7-21 passing for just 38 yards...an average of 1.8 yards per pass. Joel Bouagnon, a normally great halfback, managed just 16 yards in his eight carries. Jordan Huff had just 13 yards on five carries. And Kenny Golladay, who is quite possibly NIU's biggest TD threat, was only able to get seven yards on two catches (Juwan Brescacin lead NIU with 12 yards on three grabs).
Boise State, however, had no problem moving the ball - averaging 6.74 yards per play (654 yards on 97 plays). Brett Rypien, the Broncos freshman QB, was 29/40 and amassed 377 yards and had a TD and a pick. On the ground BSU netted 277 yards (93 from Jeremy McNichols and 90 from Ryan Wolpin).
Three different players had over 75 yards receiving for the Broncos - Thomas Sperbeck (six grabs, 78 yards), Shane William-Rhodes (eight for 94 yards), and McNichols (five for 96 yards and a TD).
Jacob Ambrose might be the player-of-the-game for NIU, as the junior punter averaged nearly 39 yards per kick and had nine boots for a total of 347 yards.
The Huskies will have to deal with yet another disappointing ending to a season, as they have now lost their last game in each of the past four seasons. But, with a lot of talent returning and a manageable schedule next season, NIU looks to return to the top of the MAC in 2016.