By Mid-American Conference standards, Northern Illinois University have a strong football program.  The current crop of seniors have played in 56 games over four seasons, meaning appearances in the conference championship game each year (2-2) and four straight bowl bids (although getting enough teams to fill the bowl schedule requires diluted standards.)

The aspiration around the athletic department has been to become the "next Boise State" (meaning a college football program not affiliated with the Southeastern or Pacific or Big Ten that is capable of giving teams from those conferences a competitive game, and winning more often than not).

Boise State was the opponent in the recently completed Poinsettia Bowl, and the original didn't have much respect for the next.
Boise State jumped out to a big lead in the first two quarters and cruised to a 55-7 win over Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl on Wednesday at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego for the Huskies' worst loss since 2007.

The Broncos (9-5 overall) led 31-7 at halftime and scored touchdowns on their first three possessions. Boise State, which now has 64 wins since 2010 compared to 65 by Northern Illinois, outgained the Huskies 654-33 and set a Poinsettia Bowl record for most points in a game.
Four bowl appearances, four losses (Florida State, Utah State, Marshall, Boise State).  Do you want to believe?
The catchphrase of the X-Files must resonate with Northern Illinois football fans after the team’s 55-7 loss to Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl, capping an 8-6 season with a blowout bowl loss for the second straight year.

Right now, most fans are more than likely channelling their inner Scully, their inner skeptic. After all, there really wasn’t anything redeemable about this game.
Nowhere for the students to redeem the several hundred dollars they're shelling out in athletics activity fees, either.  Is the football visibility worth it? Jesse Severson of the DeKalb Daily Chronicle combines interview and analysis.
I asked Boise State coach Bryan Harsin if the buildup to the game – being billed a battle of Group of 5 powers – made the lopsided victory a little sweeter. Instead of taking the moment to bask in the glow of showing the world who the top dog is in the Group of 5, Harsin took the high road.

“I think the teams going into the game were comparable, if you were looking at statistically over the last four or five years,” he said. “And we obviously looked at those things, but I think tonight we were different. I thought our guys were different and it’s not about (being compared to NIU), it’s not about that. It’s about performing and doing our best and making sure that what we’ve prepared to do, we go out there and we get that done, because we spend a lot of time working on it for three and a half hours.”

There will be ramifications for this game for Northern Illinois and the questions will be asked – perhaps unfairly – of whether the coaching staff needs a shakeup. Would that be an overreaction – considering many of the Huskies’ major playmakers return next season and that Hare was out the second half of the season – or the proper reaction? Time will tell.
Inasmuch as headquarters continues to starve the academic departments of resources, whilst devoting resources to whatever it is that administrators do, while Boise State is a paradigm of Excellence Without Money, perhaps The Hard Way is making Too Hard A Way for the other functions of the university.  I wonder if there's a rubric for that in the program prioritization rigamarole.

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