A blast from the past

By Carl Ackerman

Editor’s note: Saturday marks the 11th anniversary of the NIU football team’s last win against a Top 25 team. The Huskies crushed then No. 24 Fresno State 73-18. This story

appeared in the Northern Star’s Oct. 8, 1990.

At NIU’s Homecoming game Saturday, Stacey Robinson set NCAA records, set back Fresno State’s football program and set off a celebration that proved hazardous to the Huskie Stadium goalposts.

The Huskies (3-3) stunned 24th ranked Fresno State 73-18, a game in which the Bulldogs (5-1) had just about every odd in their favor.

NIU’s Wishbone Wizard quarterback Robinson was definitely the deciding factor in the blowout, which set both NIU and NCAA records.

Robinson ran for 308 yards, an NCAA record for most rushing yards by a quarterback. Amazingly, Robinson accomplished this feat in little over two quarters of action. The “Sauce” also racked up five touchdowns and numerous other records. He also became the sixth NIU player to run for over 2,000 yards.

It was the most points scored by an NCAA Division I team this season and the most by NIU since 1921 when NIU beat Elmhurst 91-0. The 18,067 Huskie fans celebrated the win by tearing down one of the goalposts with five seconds remaining in the game.

Robinson was quick to say he doesn’t deserve all the credit.

“First of all, we know where the credit goes,” Robinson said. “It starts with the ‘Hogs.’ We had all 11 guys executing right. It seemed like we couldn’t do anything wrong. Everybody deserves credit.”

If NIU could do nothing wrong, then FSU coach Jim Sweeney must have thought his team could do nothing right, at least in the first half when NIU belted out 50 points.

“We terribly underestimated the speed of the attack of the perimeter of NIU,” Sweeney said. “Stacey did a tremendous job of carrying the football to the outside. He showed me more ability as a runner than we estimated him having. We were badly out-coached in that area.”

The Huskies, who notched their 11th consecutive win at home, rushed for 773 yards, compared to the Bulldogs’ 145 yards. NIU notched 806 total yards with 36 first downs, both school records.

“(NIU) blocked extremely well,” Sweeney said. “They really, really beat us up. We have never been beaten up like that by anybody. We’ve played a lot of good teams, but none of them were wishbone teams. That was really the key.”

NIU head coach Jerry Pettibone also feels the game’s biggest factor was that FSU hasn’t played an option team like NIU in quite a few years.

“This game is going to give us a tremendous boost of confidence,” Pettibone said. “We enjoy great victories, but we’ve also got to keep things in proper perspective and continue to get better each week and work hard and realize what got us to where we are.”

“In the second half, we tried to absorb Stacey on the line of scrimmage,” Sweeney said. “It worked well. We would have been better off doing that at the beginning of the game. When we did slow him down in the third quarter, we failed to respond offensively.”