Boise State gave the college football world a glimpse of what might have been during Wednesday’s 55-7 slaughter of Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl.
It was the fifth-most lopsided game in bowl history.
The Broncos came into the season highly ranked and expected to go undefeated en route to — at the very least — a New Year’s Six Bowl. But those plans got derailed during the second game of the season and the Broncos expected dream campaign turned into a four-loss nightmare.
Wednesday’s game was a measure of redemption and even a little bittersweet.
The Broncos played the way many had expected them to play throughout the season. They jumped out to a 21-0 first-half lead thanks to precision on offense and a suffocating defense, and the trend continued throughout the game. Running back Jeremy McNichols had 93 rushing yards and two scores and 96 receiving yards and a score. He was responsible for the Broncos 21-0 lead.
Quarterback Bret Rypien, who was named the game's MVP, completed 29 of 40 passes for 377 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
When it was all over, Boise State had racked up 654 total yards and limited Northern Illinois’ offense to 33 yards. Northern Illinois’ best — and only offense — came on a 96-yard kickoff return in the second quarter that made the score 24-7. The Huskies forced a turnover on Boise State’s next possession and appeared to finally sway momentum in its favor. However, the Huskies turned the ball over themselves — one of their three on the day — and Boise State ultimately scored before the end of the half.
Northern Illinois came into the game with a severe disadvantage after losing its top two quarterbacks. Third-stringer Ryan Graham, who missed the Mid-American Conference title game because of injury, faced constant pressure by the Boise State defense and completed just 7 of 21 passes for 38 yards and had minus-49 yards rushing, most of which came on sacks. The Huskies converted just one third down.
NIU had struggled on offense with Graham and walk-on fourth-stringer Tommy Fielder at quarterback, but this was the worst performance to-date.
There is a positive for both teams, however, and that’s that both return the nucleus of the teams that got them to the bowl game in the first place. For Boise State, perhaps this game is a kickoff to what could ultimately be its lost dream season in 2016. For Northern Illinois, it’s a game the Huskies will likely toss into the Pacific Ocean before heading back to DeKalb.
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