The Northern Illinois Huskies had their streak of 17 consecutive road victories come crashing down tonight in Fayetteville, as the Arkansas Razorbacks returned the opening kick for a touchdown - and it didn't get any better from there. The Huskies were outmatched and didn't help themselves, as they racked up almost 70 yards in penalties and turned the ball over twice in the blowout loss.
The Razorbacks outgained NIU 427-303, and the didn't just run the ball like many expected. Arkansas had 212 yards rushing and 215 yards passing - way more balanced than in previous games. As for NIU, who was the sixth best rushing team in the NCAA, their offense stalled. The Huskies were averaging over 300 rushing yards per game, but just managed 123 yards on 32 carries - most of which were from Cameron Stingily (49 yards on ten carries).
Korliss Marshall was untouched as he took the opening kickoff 97-yards to give the Razorbacks a 7-0 lead just 16 seconds into the game. On the Huskies first possession, it looked grim for the first two plays, but on 3-14, Joel Bouagnon took a screen pass 42 yards to get the Huskies to the Arkansas 37-yard line. However, the Huskies couldn't get on the board after a failed 4th down conversion from the Razorback's 25-yard line.
After the Huskies forced a Razorback punt, NIU looked to move the ball again, but on a 3rd and six, Hare fumbled while getting sacked and Darius Philon scooped up the loose ball returning it for a touchdown. Then after another NIU three-and-out, the Razorbacks got the ball again and drove 69 yards on 12 plays - capped by a 15-yard TD run by Josh Williams - making the score 21-0 after just 15 minutes of play.
After another NIU punt and a missed field goal by Arkansas, the Huskies offense found a rhythm. In just 8 plays the Huskies went 74 yards and scored their only points of the first half on a 11-yard bubble screen to Aregeros Turner. But that was the only drive worth watching for NIU. Arkansas added another TD right before the half, taking a 28-7 lead into the locker room.
The second half was more of the same for the Huskies, multiple three-and-outs while Arkansas moved the ball easily against the NIU offense. Even switching QBs for the Huskies didn't seem to matter. Anthony Maddie came in for a drive in the third quarter that went nowhere, then again midway through the fourth.
Arkansas outscored the Huskies 24-7 in the second half, with a Brandon Allen and Korliss Marshall running for TDs and Keon Hatcher catching a 44-yard pass for a score as well. While NIU managed to score on a 15-yard screen pass to Joel Bouagnon.
The Huskies will look to rebound next week when they start conference play. Next Saturday Kent State will come to DeKalb, where the Huskies have won 27 in a row.