MOSCOW, Idaho – The Palouse is an interesting place if you're a lifelong Midwesterner like me.
The area the covers western Idaho and central Washington features beautiful rolling hills, which are certainly visible on the drive down Route 195 from Spokane, Wash., where the nearest airport is to Moscow, Idaho, site of Northern Illinois' 45-35 win over Idaho on Saturday afternoon.
Then there's the Kibbie Dome, which is the most interesting college stadium I've been in, to say the least. From the outside, it looks like the Chick Evans Fieldhouse, only bigger. There's no stands in either end zone, meaning if a kicker misses a field goal, it hits the wall. When you think of a dome, in your head you have a large facility. The Superdome, the Georgia Dome, the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. The Kibbie Dome isn't exactly a big facility.
It's certainly a crazy place, and NIU's win was crazy in itself.
I'm not going to lie, I thought the Huskies would crush the Vandals. Crush them. I'm sure most fans did as well.
I saw how bad Idaho's defense had been in its first two outings, giving up over 40 points a game, knowing how bad of a combo that was going up against the potent Huskie offense. I thought NIU would not only win, but cover the 28 1/2-point spread somewhat easily. In my live blog, I predicted a 55-14 NIU victory.
It's as cliche as it gets, but there's a reason they play the games. On my way into Moscow, I got a couple of texts about Akron's near upset at Michigan.
At halftime at the Kibbie Dome, I still figured NIU would come back no problem, at the time the Huskies were down seven points. As the second half wore on, Idaho actually winning became a reality.
The game featured a rare Mathew Sims missed field goal, a trick play NIU didn't convert (Tyler Wedel's fake field goal run, where he fumbled), and the Huskies notching a school-record 11 sacks. A wide receiver, Tommylee Lewis, ran for 104 yards.
As they say, a win is a win, and the most important thing is the Huskies improved to 2-0 and are still marching toward the Top 25.
There are also some concerns fans need to take away.
This team has a chance to do some special things, especially with the schedule it has.
At the same time, the run defense struggled again. How will it be when NIU goes against Toledo's David Fluellen? The receivers dropped some balls, and NIU only really took one shot downfield. The 11 penalties the Huskies had are certainly a concern.
The Huskies got the win. But they will need a better performance against the likes of Purdue, Kent State, Ball State or Toledo.