WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish heard the message loud and clear from wide receivers coach P.J. Fleck.
"One thing he said [Friday] night was he's sick, he gets mad when people say 'Hey remember back when in 2003?' And that kind of inspired us," Harnish said, referencing NIU's three victories over BCS teams that season. "We want to make our own team. We want to be 2009. And I think we did that today."
NIU claimed its first win against a BCS conference team since 2003, when the Huskies defeated Maryland, Alabama and Iowa State.
In what turned out as an historic day for NIU, the Huskies also earned their second-ever victory over a Big Ten team on Saturday. The first came on Sept. 17, 1988 in a 19-17 victory at Wisconsin. NIU is now 2-32-1 all time versus the Big Ten.
Games like this are starting to become the norm for the MAC this season. Central Michigan already has gone to Michigan State and won. Toledo beat Colorado handily. Eastern Michigan took Northwestern to the wire. Bowling Green had Missouri on the ropes before collapsing.
"We are better than what most people think," Harnish said. "We have beaten some good teams in the past couple of weeks. We are a little bit underrated, but that's OK. I like it like that."
One-two punch: Running backs Chad Spann and Me'co Brown again had a solid game together, racking up a combined 230 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 44 carries.
"Me'co and I enjoy it," Spann said. "We keep trying to outdo each other. He'll come in and make some big plays, and I'll come in and make some. It can be hard to stop."
Injury updates: Linebacker/Kick returner John Tranchitella missed the game with a knee injury he suffered against Western Illinois. He likely will be out for a few weeks. Tight end Jason Schepler left the game in the second quarter with an elbow injury. Right guard Joe Pawlak left the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. More will be known on Schepler and Pawlak this week.
Quotable: "I hate to lose a game at home. I don't care if it's to the PAC, MAC or WAC, it makes us sick to our stomach. If we can learn and grow from this, we can still have a pretty good season." – Purdue coach Danny Hope.
By the numbers: NIU's 454 yards of total offense was its highest total since the 2007 Kent State game and the highest of the Jerry Kill era... Fullback Kyle Skarb had a career long reception with a 41-yard play in the fourth quarter... Senior wide receiver Marcus Lewis established a new career high for receiving yards in a game with 49 (on four catches)... Senior wide receiver Preston Williams earned his first career start Saturday.