Let’s just go ahead and get the obvious out of the way: This has not been the 2016 that anyone expected from the Northern Illinois Huskies. Taking nothing away from South Florida, Wyoming, or San Diego State, but 0-3 was about as farfetched as the pitiful performances put forth by the Huskies so far this season. A performance that extended today with a 42-28 defeat at the hands of the San Diego State Aztecs.
There was hope that today would right the NIU ship, as is often the case, teams rally around each other in the face of tremendous adversity. An injured starting QB in Drew Hare, a fanbase on the verge of crowdfunding a contract buyout, and the rest of the MAC sitting in smug satisfaction that NIU has fallen back to Earth could have steeled resolve and ended up in an NIU coming out party. That most definitely wasn’t the case.
With 6 minutes to go in the first half, SDSU had a 28-0 lead and it looked like another long Saturday. And the how behind the losses is what has been the most frustrating part of watching this year’s Huskies. Turnovers. Penalties. A team that aside from remarkably talented performances from Kenny Golladay, just looks average. At best. And that is not the NIU that we have all come to know and expect on fall Saturdays.
NIU would claw back in the second half, cutting the lead to only one possession twice, but each time San Diego State either quickly scored to answer or had a defensive hold to set up one. The biggest concern for NIU fans should be their defensive inability against the rush, as SDSU’s Donnel Pumphrey had himself a day, to the tune of 220 yards and 3 scores on 23 carries. Not ideal for the Huskie D.
Take away the dreadful start, the over 100 yards in penalties, and the 4 turnovers (2 INTs, 2 on downs) and NIU likely gets a comfortable win. Which is all the more reason that Huskies fans are pulling their hair out and clambering for an answer, any answer, no matter how irrational it might be. They are back in action next week in Dekalb against the Western Illinois Leathernecks at 3:30PM, still on the hunt for win number one of 2016.