Jacobson: Frazier watches historic win up close
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – For almost the entire game on Saturday, Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier stood in his suite, watching the action an inch from the window.
Shouts of "Go baby!" echoed through the press box as Dechane Durante returned an interception in the second quarter and his boundless energy rarely wavered.
Frazier never sat down, and he had no reason to as NIU played its best game of the brief Rod Carey era in a 55-24 win over Purdue.
All of the question marks that surrounded NIU heading into Saturday were answered emphatically. The Huskies got off to a quick start, held Purdue's offense in check and didn't commit many penalties.
It was complete domination to the point where Purdue, the host Big Ten team, was the one pulling out all the stops, recovering an onside kick, executing a fake punt and going for it multiple times on fourth down.
None of it mattered as the only question remaining in the fourth quarter was at what point Lynch would be taken out.
The 55 points scored were the most points ever allowed by Purdue at Ross-Ade Stadium and the 34-point margin of victory tied for the largest ever by a MAC team against a Big Ten opponent.
The Huskies forced turnovers, played efficient offensively and made big plays on special teams. Carey said this was the most complete game the Huskies have played this season
But he also mentioned that the team is a work in progress. He's right; there's still much to accomplish.
For all of the comparisons that NIU's non-conference sweep elicits to the historic 2003 team, there is one NIU doesn't want to see in the record books. After a 7-0 start in 2003, NIU lost to Bowling Green and Toledo in MAC play and finished 10-2. There was no MAC Championship and no bowl game.
Saturday's win was noteworthy for NIU and the MAC in many ways, but it will be a mere historical footnote if the end goals of a conference championship and postseason win aren't reached.
For right now, NIU is 4-0 and on the precipice of the Top 25. A couple more wins and the talks of another BCS run will start to build momentum.
With 13 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Frazier didn't need to stay in his suite for the finish, putting on his jacket and leaving for the NIU sideline; the game already well in hand.
He said afterwards he normally stays in one place if things are going well. But even superstition is trumped by a 31-point blowout over a Big Ten team on the road.
Frazier wanted to witness history from field level, even if it was clear through the glass.
Ross Jacobson is the sports editor of the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @RossJacobson.