NIU’s bowl bid hopes dwindle

By Carl Ackerman

“A bowl. Any kind of a bowl. That’s our major goal for our team this year.”

Those were the words of NIU’s head football coach Jerry Pettibone prior to the 1990 season.

Although a lot can happen in NIU’s eight remaining games, Saturday’s 23-14 loss to Toledo may be a game the Huskies (1-2) will look back on around bowl season and wonder “what could’ve been.”

In a game Pettibone labeled as “critical,” NIU mustered up two touchdowns and just 15 first downs against UT. The passing game didn’t click (five for 22) and the defense allowed 361 total yards. UT freshman Troy Parker snagged 205 of those yards.

It was a game the Huskies hoped would get them back on track to their winning ways and improve their hopes for a bowl bid.

Instead, NIU must wait until Saturday before it can get a chance to taste the sweet success of victory when it hosts Kansas State (2-0). However, KSU will be looking for some vengeance after NIU’s 37-20 victory last season.

If NIU still plans on making it to a bowl, a lot of big things are going to have to take place. Even if the Huskies go on a tear and win the remainder of their games, their record will be 9-2. That would be identical to last year’s record which wasn’t good enough for a bowl.

However, a major reason for a non-bowl bid in 1989 was because of NIU’s low attendance figures. Much promotion work has been done to increase this season’s attendance so that it would not be a problem.

NIU started the season with a 28-17 triumph over visiting Division II Eastern Illinois. Over 12,000 fans watched the Huskies battle back from a halftime deficit in a game many people expected NIU to win without any problems.

The following week NIU traveled to Nebraska looking for revenge after last season’s 48-17 loss. They didn’t get it. NIU lost 60-14, and failed to score in the second half.

Now, after going 1-2, the Huskies must go undefeated and will also need a little luck if Pettibone’s wish for a bowl is to come true.