On a rainy and foggy Saturday afternoon in front of a sparse Homecoming crowd, NIU football continued its dominance at home and in the MAC.
NIU (6-1, 3-0 MAC) overpowered the Buffalo Bulls (1-5, 0-2 MAC), 45-3, posting their lowest opponent point total of the season.
“That was our most complete game that we’ve had in my two years here,” said coach Dave Doeren. “We were aggressive in all three phases. There was a lot of great execution that took place on the field today.”
While the final score shows obvious dominance, the statistics point to an even greater margin of ability.
On the day, Buffalo ran 88 plays, 22 more than NIU, and only posted 337 yards. The defense of the Huskies also held the Bulls to their lowest rushing total of the season, limiting them to just 74 yards on 39 carries. Even more impressive was the red zone ability of the NIU defense, something that made Doeren proud.
“They were one of only three teams in college football that was 100 percent in the red zone,” Doeren said. “We held them to twenty five percent, so what’s that say about our defense? We forced three turnovers in the red zone, that’s big time.”
True freshman cornerback Marlon Moore got his first start and made the most of his opportunity, picking off Buffalo quarterback Alex Zordich twice in the red zone. Those were his first two interceptions of his career.
“Coach always says, ‘What would we do with the opportunity?’” Moore said. “I think I answered the question well.”
Offensively, the Huskies continued their theme as junior quarterback Jordan Lynch kept the ball rolling once again. He rushed for more than 100 yards for the sixth time this season and scored two touchdowns on the ground. He also added 232 yards in the air and two touchdowns in the passing game.
“He’s a great athlete,” said Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn. “He’s got good vision. He’s got good feet. He’s a strong kid. As it’s been quoted before, he plays that position like a linebacker. It’s hard to bring him down. We’ve got to look at ourselves first and foremost in all three phases. That’s nowhere near the kind of football team I expect.”
Lynch ran for a long of 40 yards in the game and threw for a long of 45. Lynch has confidence in his line and in himself to make the big play on the ground.
“It’s only a yard and sometimes a yard can be a long way,” Lynch said. “All we need is to just make contact, stand them up. If I find a little crease, I’ll get it.”
Lynch also helped pace NIU on fourth down conversions, as it was a near perfect 4-5 on the day, including another fake punt on fourth and seven early in the second quarter. The snap went directly to junior tight end Luke Eakes who ran for 32 yards, picking up the first down.
This set up an eventual one-yard touchdown run by junior running back Akeem Daniels.
The win extended the Huskies’ season winning streak to six games, their MAC winning streak to 11 games and their home winning streak to 19 games.
It also allows NIU to be bowl eligible and the senior class tied last year’s seniors as the most winningest class in school history with 35 career victories over the last four seasons.
“There were a lot of things riding on this game,” Doeren said. “The fact that we got to do it at home in front of our home coming crowd was very special.”