The results of beating Minnesota

By Chris Dertz

DeKALB | “It was our day today.”

Those were the final words out of Jerry Kill’s mouth after Saturday night’s 34-23 win over Minnesota.

But the NIU head coach dispelled any delusions of grandeur, spouting allthe coach speak you’d expect:

Any win is a good win, especially on the road.

What’s important is that the team improved.

We need to look to next week.

These sentiments were expressed by Kill after the game.

But there was a different feeling on the NIU sideline when the game clock struck :00.

When the team gathered outside its tunnel to celebrate – jumping, chanting and more shouting than singing the Huskie fight song –  one got the feeling that something special could be happening with this NIU program.

The win over Minnesota was the Huskies’ second victory over a Big Ten opponent in as many years. It was the second in three years under Kill, and the third in school history.

“I think it definitely shows the potential of our team,” said quarterback Chandler Harnish. “We’ve got some really good players, we really do. We just need to keep putting it together.”

The reaction from other NIU players was largely the same. Center Scott Wedige could only shake his head and smile before simply saying, “It’s awesome.”

The improvement that Kill has talked about all season was fully evident in the win, but it seems to be applying to the program as a whole.

Before last season’s win at Purdue, NIU hadn’t beaten a Big Ten opponent since downing Wisconsin on the road in 1988.

Under Kill, the Huskies are 2-3 against the Big Ten, and were 1-29-1 before Kill was hired.

One gets the impression that this really is just another win to the third-year head coach. After beating Purdue on the road in 2009, NIU came back home and lost to Idaho, 34-31.

While this week’s win has all the look of another program-defining win, Kill has his players under control. He knows what can happen after a big win like this and is keeping them focused.

For now, though, the players are happy to have their revenge on the Golden Gophers.

“I definitely feel that [we had unfinished business],” Harnish said. “Two years ago, we lost a real close one. It was a heartbreaker. We’ve got a schedule that we feel like we can go out and win a lot of games. We’re going to stay focused, but we’re going to enjoy this one.”