These weren’t the vintage versions of these teams, what with their seven conference championships and three BCS appearances over the past seven years traded for no conference titles and nine regular season losses. Despite that, though, Boise State brought its A-plus game to the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on Wednesday night. Northern Illinois’ effort can be classified somewhere between letters D and Q.
Boise State jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter lead and cruised to a 55-7 victory over the overmatched and uninterested Huskies. The 48-point margin was Boise State’s largest bowl victory and Northern Illinois’ greatest bowl defeat.
The Broncos found pay dirt on each of their first three possessions, marching 75, 67 and 53 yards, to grab a 21-point lead less than 12 minutes in. Jeremy McNichols notched all three of Boise’s touchdowns, coming on a 29-yard dash, a four-yard reception from Brett Rypien and then a one-yard plunge.
The lead swelled to 31-7 by halftime, despite Boise State losing the ball on an interception a fumble and a turnover on downs. Boise State then pushed the lead to 41-7 after three and 55-7 by the 9:52 mark of the fourth quarter before letting the air out of the time remaining.
For the game, McNichols rushed 19 times for 93 yards and two scores while also notching five receptions for a game-high 96 yards and a touchdown. Brett Rypien completed 29-of-40 throws for 377 yards with three scores and an interception; Shane Williams-Rhoades nabbed eight balls for 94 yards, Thomas Sperbeck caught six for 78, Chaz Anderson hauled in four for 46 and a score and Alec Dhaenens snared an 18-yard touchdown catch. On the ground, Ryan Wolpin rushed 15 times for 90 yards, Kelsey Young toted 10 times for 54 yards and a touchdown and Thomas Stuart compiled five rushes for 20 yards and a touchdown.
As for Northern Illinois? Woof. (And not the good kind.) The Huskies’ first drive moved 42 yards in 13 snaps; their remaining 12 traveled no further than six yards, and four of them lost yardage. Jacob Ambrose punted nine times if not for Aregeros Turner‘s 96-yard kickoff return touchdown NIU would have finished the night with as many points as it started.
Overall, Boise State compiled 654 yards (377 passing, 277 rushing) on 97 plays, while Northern Illinois achieved 33 yards in 51 tries. The Broncos held a 35-7 edge in first downs and converted 10-of-16 third downs to NIU’s 1-of-12.
Just how thorough was this beating? Boise State’s fifth-leading rusher would’ve lead Northern Illinois’ entire roster, and six separate Broncos posted more receiving yards than the most productive Huskie.
In the end, Boise State finishes 2015 at 9-4 and pondering what’s to come, while Northern Illinois closes at 8-6, wondering just what in the world happened.