by CFP Staff
December 18, 2010
Northern Illinois snapped a 3-bowl losing streak with a 40-17 smackdown of Fresno State in the Humanitarian Bowl on the blue smurf turf of Boise State's Bronco Stadium.
After spotting Fresno State the first score of the bowl game, the Huskies reeled off the next 16 points and never looked back. The Northern Illinois lead was 23-10 at halftime, 33-10 at the end of three quarters and 40-10 with 12:28 left in the game.
Chandler Harnish threw for 300 yards and 1 TD, and ran for 72 yards and 2 more scores for the victorious Huskies. Chad Spann had 91 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns of his own.
Fresno State QB Ryan Colburn was 28-of-38 for 288 yards and 2 TD's in the losing effort. However, his second touchdown pass came with five-and-a-half minutes left in the game and only served to make the final score look a little less lopsided than it actually was.
The Northern Illinois defense held the Bulldog offense to just 2.1 yards per rush and a net of 74 yards on the ground.
The Huskies played the game without head coach Jerry Kill on the sidelines. Two days after an upset loss to Miami (Ohio) in the MAC Championship game, Kill was hired to fill the head coaching vacancy at Minnesota after compiling a 23-16 record and 3 bowl trips. However, he was 0-2 in bowl games and Tom Matukewicz, the linebackers coach under Kill at NIU, took the reigns as Interim head coach and led the team to its first bowl victory since the Silicon Valley Classic in 2004. The victory also gave the Huskies a school record 11-win season (11-3).
Northern Illinois' search for an official head coach concluded five days before the bowl game when it hired Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Doeren.
The computer (Congrove Computer Rankings) forecasted a 7.13-point win for the Huskies and had 25 confidence points placed on the game.
The win improved Northern Illinois' overall bowl record to 3-3.
Fresno State took its 3rd straight bowl loss and finished the season at 8-5. The Bulldogs fell to 10-10 all-time in bowl games and are just 4-8 in their last 12 postseason appearances.