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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Reviewing NIU football’s 3 most recent Bowl games

Scott Walstrom
Then-NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch looks to make a pass downfield during the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 2013. The Huskies have yet to win a bowl game in their last three tries. (Scott Walstrom | NIU Athletics)

With the postseason destiny and the collegiate careers of 11 seniors hanging in the balance, NIU football (6-6, 5-3 MAC) triumphed in a 37-27 high-stakes clash over the Kent State University Golden Flashes on Nov. 25 to become bowl-eligible. 

The NIU football team is well-acquainted with postseason competition, holding a track record of 15 bowl-game appearances since 1983 and clinching eligibility seven times in the past 10 seasons. 

Basking in the glory of NIU’s season-saving bowl clincher, it’s time to cast a gaze on the program’s rich history of regular-season success, looking at the three most recent outings. 


NIU’s latest post-season trip – first under NIU football head coach Thomas Hammock – ended in a crushing defeat against the 11-win Coastal Carolina University Chanticleers at the Tailgreeter Cure Bowl on Dec. 17, 2021. 

The 2021 Cure Bowl was marked by offensive fireworks, featuring seven lead changes, 88 combined points, 1,030 yards of total offense and a shiny new trophy for the then-bowless Coastal Carolina football program. 

Leading the Chanticleers to the game’s seventh and final lead change was then-sophomore quarterback Grayson McCall who connected on 4 touchdown strikes and accounted for 355 total yards.

A failed fourth-and-one attempt at the Huskies’ 34-yard line opened the door for a McCall scoring drive to take a 6-point lead with under seven minutes remaining. 

Trailing 47-41 with just two seconds left, zero timeouts to spare and an opportunity to break the bowless drought, the Huskies were stalled on the Chanticleers 4-yard line after failing to snap the ball in time for a final play. Coastal Carolina would receive its first postseason victory in program history.


The final chapter of former NIU head football coach Rod Carey unfolded in a lopsided 37-13 drubbing against the University of Alabama at Birmingham at the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 18, 2018.

Ranked 10th nationally, the UAB defense stifled then-junior NIU quarterback Marcus Childers, forcing two fumbles and sacking him five times.

The Blazers maintained the same tenacity on the offensive end, tearing through the Huskies defense to the tune of 476 scrimmage yards and 4 touchdowns through the air.  

Then-senior wide receiver Xavier Ubosi was at the forefront of UAB’s 476-yard onslaught, accounting for 227 yards and three receiving touchdowns off of 7 receptions. Ubosi shared Bowl MVP honors with then-senior defensive lineman Anthony Rush. 


Five years removed from their MAC Championship run on the same playing site at Ford Field in Detroit, the Huskies were handled 36-14 by Duke University in the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec 26, 2017. 

A contest that was once resting in the balance swiftly transformed into a one-sided display of dominance in favor of Duke. 

In need of a response after falling 14-0 in the opening frame, former NIU junior running back Tre Harbison stepped up with a 25-yard touchdown run to narrow the deficit to just seven points. After forcing Duke to punt on the subsequent possession, Childers linked up with former Huskie wide receiver Jauan Wesley for a 67-yard touchdown scamper to level the score. 

The momentum shifted in a way that proved insurmountable for the Huskies as the Blue Devils went on a 22-0 scoring barrage from the 6:09 tick mark in the third quarter to the end of regulation. The Huskies turned the ball over on downs in four out of their five second-half possessions, opting to punt only once.

Incumbent New York Football Giant and then-sophomore quarterback Daniel Jones put on a clinic against the Huskies. Jones completed 27 of 40 passes for 234 yards, 2 passing touchdowns and accumulated 86 yards and a rushing score off of 16 attempts. Jones earned the Quick Lane Bowl MVP title for his efforts.


NIU is locked in for a battle against Arkansas State at 11 a.m. Dec. 23 in Montgomery, Alabama. The game will be televised on ESPN, and audio will be available via The Varsity Network.

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