DeKALB – So many times Northern Illinois has been on the opposite end of what happened Saturday at Huskie Stadium.
For NIU in recent years against teams from a BCS conference, an all-too-common sight has been seeing an opponent’s offense score late to get a close win. The latest example was a one-point loss to Iowa in Week 1 at Soldier Field, when Hawkeyes running back James Bullock ran for a 23-yard touchdown to put Iowa ahead in the fourth quarter.
Who can forget last season’s three-point loss at Kansas, when the Jayhawks scored with nine seconds left to take the lead?
Saturday, the tables were finally turned, with NIU scoring 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to grab a 30-23 victory over those very same Jayhawks.
When the game was over, Huskies head coach Dave Doeren was standing near the west bleachers, pumping his fist with a large dog bone in his hands.
The bone signifies a “boneyard victory” for the Huskies, which is earned when NIU beats a team from a BCS conference. The Huskies first boneyard victory came in 1983 when the Huskies, coincidentally, won at Kansas.
NIU’s last boneyard victory came at Minnesota two years ago.
In NIU’s locker room, there are a number of large dog bones on the wall, representing the Huskies’ various wins against BCS teams. Coaches like Bill Mallory, who earned the first boneyard win, Joe Novak and Jerry Kill have all been part of those wins.
Now, after starting his head coaching career out 0-3 against BCS teams, Doeren finally has his own Boneyard Victory.
Doeren, who is from Kansas and was an assistant coach in Lawrence from 2002-05, said it wasn’t a big deal to beat a school he coached at.
All Doeren was worried about was defeating a BCS school.
“I wanted a piece of history on our locker room wall,” Doeren said. “When I walk in our locker room and I see the MAC championship thing that we put up last year, that we earned, and I just never got to see a dog bone with my signature on it, and now I have that.
“Being from Kansas and having worked there, that’s great. I know my mom’s probably more excited about that part of it than I am. I’m just proud of our players. Very proud of them.”
As for the bone, Doeren made sure he didn’t let it stray away from him all week long.
“I carried it with me everywhere I went this week. I went everywhere but to bed with it, I’m serious about that. Every meeting we had I’d be banging on the walls with the bone, right?” Doeren said, glancing over at Nabal Jefferson and Joe Windsor. “I don’t have to do that anymore.”