Sunday, November 23, 2003

Week 1, Early Edition

Aug 29

Return to top


Number of times, lifetime, i've seen the winning

play of a staggering football game, unfold as a

reception off an inadvertant foot deflection in the

endzone. The first was Nebraska-Missouri. The second

was Northern Illinois' staggering 20-13 overtime

victory Thursday night against #15 Maryland. I hope

that somewhere this season, i catch another college

game as good. I KNOW I won't see a pro game as good.

Just a delicious event from whistle to whistle. every

cliched "good thing" in college football was on

display, every single detail was satisfying. And it's

just as great a way as i can think of to kick off the

Season and the Index.


Years in a row NIU has opened with an upset of an

ACC school in overtime. But last year was Wake



Toes belonging to NIU's PJ Fleck which he managed

to drag across one inch of endzone on the screaminest,

leapin'est, holy-shit-in'est scoring streak in the

first quarter. Last year's season started with

Charles Roger's stunning catch to not-quite-beat Notre

Dame. This catch, though different, was every inch as



Yards of field goal NIU's kicker hit in the first

half, the school record, to tie the game 10-10.


Minutes left when NIU took over on it's 16,

trailing 13-10.


plays in the ensuing 84 yard, 7 minute drive to

tie it. They ran underneath routes. They ran a

perfect screen pass for 20 yards. They ran it at the

middle, outside and back the other way. classic,

textbook dog-at-home-on-thursday-night. We saw it a

year ago with Louisville-Florida State. this could

have been the same game (minus the rain).


Carries on that drive from otherwise bottled-up RB

Michael Turner, NIU's supposed go-to guy.


Yards passing for NIU's Josh Haisel, who stood in

against savage blitzes, made nearly no mistakes,

never, EVER blinked and was just your basic

warrior-quarterback of the highest order. he may

never be heard from again, but he brought it thursday.


points, for both teams, with 90 seconds to go.


seconds left when NIU forced MD to punt with the

tie scored.


seconds left when NIU completed a gorgeous

over-the-middle 20 yarder to set up a chip shot


at home.

on a comeback.

on national TV.

against a team which whipped Tennessee 30-3 in its

last game.

it was Meant To Be.

and Maryland blocked it. Damndest thing.



illion - Odds, to 1, of NIU's Dan Shelton being on

the field in overtime, after a crushing

foot-planted-body-forward knee-cranker hit he took in

the 3rd quarter. Looked as nasty as any you've seen,

from McGahee to Bo.


Yards in overtime touchdown pass Shelton caught,

on third-down. turns out, the knee was just a bruise

(Maryland should have quit right there, cuz that's a

Sign). he caught it at the 15, spun away from the

all-ACC corner covering him, and outran him to the

endzone. after the game, he told a sideline reporter

about the knee inury, "my leg went numb, it was a

little scare. But even if i tore my ACL, i wasn't

coming out that game."


Plays later that It Happened. MD's QB got chased into the

backfield on a busted paly and launched a prayer

toward the EZ. It sailed down towards his reciever and

a corner, who got tangled and fell over - the corner,

while falling, kicked the pass and NIU's Randee Drew

pulled it in back at the 5.

Ballgame. Pandemonium.

MD isn't that bad, and NIU isn't that good. It was

just one of Those Games. Opening day, at home, MAJOR

underdog on a peak year (senior heavy and expected to

win the MAC) against a heavily favored Power, who

spent all summer thinking of NEXT week's game with

Florida State.

And MD committed at LEAST three key penalties to extend

NIU drives, or kill thier own, and they got hometowned

on at LEAST one no-fumble ruling and, arguably, on a no-call for pass interference on the last play of the game.

And, discussed here before, it was a Thursday.

Dogs at home on Thursdays? set the vcr.

16hours 'til UGA-Climpson (purple jersies? we can

only hope (previewable on the pregame options of

Blaine 2004)), and we're already off and running.

No comments: