Jerry Kill has turned Northern Illinois around during his two seasons with the school, but for the second consecutive year, his Huskies came up short in their bowl game with a 27-3 loss in the International Bowl. The Huskies’ loss adds to the Mid-American Conference’s bowl losing streak, making the conference 0-15 since 2006 with just Central Michigan left to play.
How the game was won: South Florida broke a 3-3 first-half tie with 24 unanswered second half points. While the Northern Illinois defense did a good job of bottling up the South Florida offense most of the game, it wore down because its offense wasn’t able to sustain long enough drives to give it adequate rest.
Turning point: When South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels found receiver A.J. Love for a 46-yard touchdowns with 5:12 remaining in the third quarter, it gave the Bulls a 13-3 lead, which, with the way the NIU offense was performing, was insurmountable.
Stat of the game: Northern Illinois allowed running back Mike Ford to rush for 207 yards on 20 carries. The Huskies came into the game allowing 119.42 rushing yards per game and had only allowed 200 rushing yards to an entire team twice this season.
Player of the game: Running back Chad Spann rushed for 93 yards on 20 carries, but more importantly, he finished the season with 1,000 yards to become the first back in coach Jerry Kill’s NIU tenure to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. He finished the season with 1,038 yards.
Second guessing: Northern Illinois was really limited throughout most of the game without the full use of its running game. Spann, who has been the workhorse for the Huskies all season, did his best, but he needed help and until late in the fourth quarter there wasn’t a lot around.