Humanitarian Bowl, Northern Illinois Vs. Fresno State: Huskies Roll Past Bulldogs, 40-17

Another bowl game, another blowout: Huskies coast to a big win despite losing head coach Jerry Kill.

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Humanitarian Bowl: Northern Illinois 40, Fresno State 17 (FINAL)

There’s only so much that Northern Illinois fans can take away from the Huskies first game without head coach Jerry Kill, who’s headed to Minnesota. After all, interim head coach Tom Matukewicz will give way to permanent replacement Dave Doeren after the game. And bowl games are notoriously bad indicators of a team’s success in the next season.

But Doeren and the Northern Illinois faithful have reason to look forward to seeing what he can do with the Huskies’ talent after a 23-point annihilation of Fresno State in the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl. NIU generated 504 yards of total offense, with Chandler Harnish going 17-of-26 for 300 yards and a touchdown passing and rushing for another 77 yards and two scores on 11 carries. Chad Spann, one of the few departing seniors from the starting lineup, added another 91 yards and two touchdowns on 14 rushes.

And Matukewicz, who became a quick ESPN favorite with his halftime statement that he would use his timeouts regardless of the score to enjoy the final minutes of the game (he didn’t), got a Gatorade bath after one of the longest televised attempts in college football history.

For Fresno State, it’s another disappointing bowl after another 8-4 season. Last year, the Bulldogs lost to Wyoming in a double-overtime postseason contest. Fresno State hasn’t won a bowl game since 2007. Ryan Colburn was 28-of-38 for 288 yards and two touchdowns, but the ground game was held to 2.1 yards a carry by Northern Illinois.

But the questions now following Northern Illinois into the offseason are whether Doeren can continue the progress of a program that has now set a record for victories in a season (11) and could begin 2011 ranked. Saturday’s win doesn’t completely answer those questions, but it at least provides some reasons for optimism.

Be sure to visit Red And Black Attack for a complete wrap-up of the Humanitarian Bowl and the road forward for Northern Illinois.

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Humanitarian Bowl, Northern Illinois Vs. Fresno State: Huskies Continue To Cruise, Lead By 23

As the fourth quarter opens, Fresno State has found its way into Northern Illinois territory, temporarily reviving the very slender hopes the Bulldogs have of rallying to the win. But the drive breaks down on a fourth-down attempt.

From there, Northern Illinois takes over and does what the Huskies have done all game: Score. They cover 61 yards in four plays, capping it off with rushes of 35 yards by Jasmin Hopkins and eight yards by Chad Spann to take a 30-point lead.

Fresno takes another drive in NIU territory, at which point Ryan Colburn starts running for his life. He eludes one sack and the Huskies get flagged for a personal foul; on the next snap, from the Northern Illinois 8, he loses 13 yards on a sack. Another play loses ground and then Northern Illinois’ Chris Smith, who is becoming the MVP of Fresno State’s passing game, gets flagged for a pretty flagrant pass interference.

That sets up a touchdown pass to Rashad Evans, cutting the Huskies’ lead to 23 points with 5:31 to go. At this point, there is no catching up; there are only points to make the blowout look less convincing.

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Humanitarian Bowl, Northern Illinois Vs. Fresno State: Huskies Opening A Gap

The second half of the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl opens with a paltry 6-yard kickoff return for the Bulldogs, but an 18-yard Ryan Colburn pass and a 15-yard NIU penalty move them well toward midfield. They're stopped well short of the 50-yard line, however, and the Huskies march back down into Bulldogs territory for a 51-yard Michael Cklamovski field goal.

The Bulldogs put together a promising drive in answer, but Ryan Colburn fumbles again at NIU's 8-yard line with four minutes remaining in the third quarter, and the Huskies recover at their own 11. Chandler Harnish makes short work of a response, completing passes of 9, 14, 5, and 29 yards, with Chad Spann rushing up the middle for 15 to set the Huskies up in Bulldog territory. Spann, getting yards in fits and starts tonight, runs right through the middle of Fresno State's line for an 18-yard touchdown.

Colburn fires off a 30-yard pass to Austin Raphael to get the Bulldogs within sniffing distance of midfield, but they're not there yet as the third-quarter clock hits 00:00. With 15 minutes remaining in the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl, Northern Illinois leads Fresno State, 33-10.

Connect with Northern Illinois fans in our live game discussion thread.

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Humanitarian Bowl, Northern Illinois Vs. Fresno State: Huskies Take 13-Point Lead To Locker Room

As the second quarter opens in Boise for the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl, Northern Illinois appears to have shrugged off any rust that clung to both units in their opening series. And it's all Chandler Harnish on this latest drive. The junior QB hits Nathan Palmer down the left-hand side for a 15-yard gain, rips off a 24-yard rush, and then bursts through the middle of the Bulldogs' line for a 28-yard touchdown run. Michael Cklamovski makes the extra point this time, and the Huskies pull ahead, 13-7.

Fresno State picks up another three-and-out, and Harnish tarnishes (sorry) the Huskies' next series with a fumble, but manages to recover it himself. Northern Illinois is reduced to a 45-yard field goal and a mere 16-7 lead. The Bulldogs keep pace perfectly, with Ryan Colburn providing a matching fumble and self-recovery on third down deep in Huskies territory, and Kevin Goessling's kick pulls the Bulldogs back within a touchdown of NIU's lead.

The next drive, the Huskies get right. Harnish rushes the ball himself or passes on every play, and connects with Willie Clark and Martel Moore for 14- and 21-yard gains before hitting the outstandingly-named Kyle Skarb with a 22-yard touchdown strike.

Ryan Colburn passes on five straight plays to get the Bulldogs within field goal range to end the half, but Goessling misses a 43-yarder as the clock expires. At halftime, Northern Illinois leads Fresno State, 23-10.

Connect with Northern Illinois fans in our live game discussion thread.

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Humanitarian Bowl, Northern Illinois Vs. Fresno State: Huskies Cut Lead With Chandler Harnish Run

Northern Illinois is known for their rushing prowess, and fields the nation's 89th-ranked passing unit, but you'd never guess it from their behavior so far in the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl. Chandler Harnish is sort of the MAC's answer to Cam Newton, only infinitely more likable. He completed a surprise 25-yard pass in the Huskies' first series, and now winds up and launches the ball 39 yards in the general direction of Martel Moore, who makes a showy pulldown catch. This sets up a touchdown run of seven yards for Harnish two plays later, and the Huskies are on the board. The point after is a miss, and Northern Illinois trails Fresno State, 6-7.

The Huskies return the momentum graciously, allowing Isaiah Burse to take their kickoff 54 yards in the wrong direction. They don't bend for long, however: No positive yardage is gained on the Bulldogs' next drive, and a sack of Ryan Colburn on third down sends out the punt unit. As the first quarter draws to a close, Fresno State holds a slight lead over Northern Illinois, 7-6.

Connect with Northern Illinois fans in our live game discussion thread.

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Humanitarian Bowl, Northern Illinois Vs. Fresno State: Bulldogs Strike First, Lead 7-0

We're underway a little late in Boise for the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl, the second college football contest of the 2010 postseason. Couple things to watch for today:

• Inmates running the asylum. Northern Illinois is operating on a skeleton crew staff after the departure of head coach Jerry Kill and both coordinators to Minnesota. Filling in at the head position is former linebackers coach Tom Matukewicz.

• Mighty Rouse and his Hellboy Fist. Fresno State's Robbie Rouse, the nation's No. 13 running back, is nursing both a rib injury and a broken bone in his hand, necessitating the wearing of a comically large cast that makes him look like a comic book superhero.

Right out of the gate, Matukewicz attempts to light a fire under his Huskies, calling for the offense to remain on the field for 4th-and-4. Chandler Harnish's pass falls incomplete, and the Bulldogs take over on downs. Rouse isn't getting much yardage, but the passing game seems to be working just fine: Ryan Colburn connects on passes of eight, 12, and 10 yards, and Jalen Sanders picks up some additional yardage on the ground to set up an 11-yard touchdown pass from Colburn to Jamel Hamler. With 5:40 remaining in the first quarter, Fresno State leads Northern Illinois, 7-0.

Connect with Northern Illinois fans in our live game discussion thread.

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