Northern Illinois puts it all together in rout of Buffalo
BY STEVE NITZ Shaw Media October 13, 2012 10:30PM
Updated: November 15, 2012 6:49AM
DEKALB — Less than 10 seconds into the postgame news conference, Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren confirmed what everyone else was thinking.
After a myriad of close contests and fourth-quarter comebacks in NIU’s first six games, the Huskies put together their best 60-minute performance in a 45-3 shellacking of Buffalo.
“That was our most complete game that I think we’ve had in the two years I’ve been here,” Doeren said. “We were aggressive in all three phases. There was a lot of great execution that took place on the field today.”
Even Doeren didn’t have a lot to complain about after his team remained undefeated in the Mid-American Conference and increased its Huskie Stadium winning streak to 19.
His biggest gripe: Marlon Moore’s interception return out of his own end zone after picking off Buffalo’s Alex Zordich in the third quarter.
“You need to stay in the end zone, dude,” Doeren told Moore, smiling. “Rookie mistake.”
Whether it was four fourth-down conversions or a successful fake punt in the second quarter, NIU did everything it wanted to, seemingly with ease.
The Huskies ran the ball well and went over Buffalo’s defense with successful down-field throws.
Defensively, NIU stopped the run, and the cornerbacks contested passes. Without safety Jimmie Ward, who was ejected late in the second quarter, the Huskies held Buffalo to 4-for-12 on third down.
Remember when all the talk about the defense centered around its inability to force turnovers? That has been put to rest after the unit forced another three turnovers, all coming in the red zone in the second half.
The result was the Huskies’ largest margin of victory for the year and a season-low three points allowed.
The Huskies have won six in a row after their opening-week loss to Iowa at Soldier Field. Much of their success has come through extra-effort plays.
Leading 28-3 in the third quarter, Martel Moore dragged two Buffalo defenders for 12 yards into the end zone. Quarterback Jordan Lynch, who churns out more yards after contact than anyone else, was impressed.
“That was something special,” Lynch said. “That’s always nice to see.”
NIU put the Bulls away without any fourth-quarter heroics. While the late-game comebacks have made for great theatre, Doeren surely wouldn’t mind seeing more of Lynch standing on the sideline in the fourth quarter with a 39-point lead.
“I had a feeling it would be a tight game or a blowout,” Doeren said. “I think we’ve been really close. We’ve had some teams on the ropes.”
Saturday, NIU finally cut it loose.