No. 1 Story of the Year: Football goes 0-2 to end season


By Frank Gogola

Football’s 2013 season went from a potentially historic one to one that ended in devastating fashion.

After plowing through their first 12 games unscathed, the Huskies blew their chance to become the fourth non-AQ school to play in multiple BCS bowl games and the second non-AQ team to play in consecutive BCS bowls.

In the MAC Championship game, the Huskies’ defense was exposed, toyed with and shredded to the tune of 47 points and 574 total yards, including 393 passing yards and five passing touchdowns. They entered the contest allowing 23.6 points and 411.4 total yards per game, including 263.8 passing yards and 1.75 passing touchdowns per game.

NIU’s offense never got into a rhythm, with the Bowling Green defense picking off quarterback Jordan Lynch twice. The Huskies, who entered the game averaging 42.8 points and 542.3 total yards per game, posted only 27 points and 454 total yards.

“The way the season ended was very disappointing, needless to say,” said Jay Niemann, defensive coordinator and safeties coach. “… We were definitely challenged throughout the course of the year. Bowling Green was a good team and certainly deserved to win the game compared to how we played. It was just their night, and we didn’t play like we hoped and didn’t make enough plays to get the job done.”

Facing the disappointment of not making a BCS bowl let alone not even capturing a MAC title, which the goal throughout the season, the Huskies closed out their season with their worst offensive performance of the season against Utah State in the Poinsettia Bowl.

The Huskies’ defense rebounded from its performance in the MAC Championship game, holding Utah State to 21 points. Their offense, which moved the ball with ease through its first 12 games, failed to convert long drives and short fields into points, managing a season-low 14 points, including seven points in the first 58:16.

Lynch was picked off once, giving him a total of three interceptions thrown in the final two games after only being picked off five times in the first 12 games. He was also held to 39 rushing yards on 18 attempts; it was his second lowest rushing total this season.

“Utah State won because they fought, and they had a tremendous team,” Niemann said. “It was a dogfight that went down to the wire. We just couldn’t get the job done.”

The back-to-back losses to end the season was the first time since Sept. 10, 2011, (at Kansas) and Sept. 17, 2011, (vs. Wisconsin) that the Huskies lost two games in a row.