The Northern Illinois Huskies have yet to look good in a bowl game under Rod Carey, who is now 0-6 in post-season games, but this one was ugly from the get go.
The UAB Blazers, who won their first bowl game in program history, took the lead just 18 seconds into the game on a 70-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Johnson III to Xavier Ubosi...which would be a common theme in the game.
Ubosi torched the Huskies’ secondary all night, accounting for three touchdowns, all of which were over 45 yards.
UAB would extend the lead to 10-0 on a 25-field goal midway through the first quarter before the Huskies finally got on the board on a 1-yard Tre Harbison TD run with just three seconds remaining in the opening 15 minutes.
The Blazers didn’t take long to back into the endzone as they marched down the field and scored on a three yard shovel pass to halfback Spencer Brown, extending the lead back to 10.
An Andrew Gantz field goal cut into the lead some, making 17-10, but UAB would score an additional 10 points in the final five minutes of the half - a 46-yard TD pass to Ubosi and, after a Marcus Childers fumble, a 35-yard field goal as time expired - pushing the score to 27-10.
NIU was able to notch another field goal midway through the third but Ubosi made sure the Huskies wouldn’t comeback like they did against Buffalo. On their next possession he would grab a 66-yard TD pass on a third-and-long and then Blazer kicker, Nick Vogel, would make his third of the game late in the third, bumping UAB’s lead up to 24, 37-13.
The Huskies had some chances in the forth quarter but they failed on 4th-and-7 and then, after the defense intercepted a pass, fumbled the ball at the 1-yard line resulting in a UAB touchback.
From there, the Blazers would basically just run out the clock and claim their first bowl victory as the Huskie offense continued to struggle.
Rod Carey has now coached in six bowl games and one ONE has been within 21-points. The Huskies have been outscored 232-81 (or an average score of 39-14) and just look like a completely different team...a team that has no motivation or will to win.
And, with the Huskies extending Carey’s contract earlier this year, all NIU fans can hope for is a better bowl showing in 2019. Hey, at least they’re MAC Champs though...right?
Total yards: 476 (373 passing, 103 rushing)
Johnson III: 17/29, 373 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT; 10 rushes, 28 yards
Ubosi: 7 catches, 227 yards, 3 TD
Brown: 25 carries, 78 yards; 1 catch, 3 yards, TD
Total yards: 287 (179 passing, 108 rushing)
Childers: 22/29, 179 yards; 18 rushes, 35 yards
Harbison: 18 carries, 49 yards, 1 TD
Spencer Tears: 6 catches, 50 yards
Sutton Smith: 5 tackles, 2 TFL