It would have been a major upset -- a 29-point underdog toppling a BCS bowl team from a year ago. But Idaho couldn't sustain its explosive offense as the game progressed, and Northern Illinois took control up front to pocket a 45-35 win at the Kibbie Dome.
Our game story is here. And we've got notes, as well as excerpts of an impassioned postgame news conference from Idaho coach Paul Petrino, after the jump.
Here's video of the news conference with Petrino, linebacker Broc Westlake and tailback James Baker that was posted at Vandal Nation.
When Petrino started talking about what it will take for Idaho to win games like these -- ones they're not supposed to win -- his voice started to rise. He got more intense. And there were times it was as if he were talking to players in the locker room, not reporters in the media room.
It's hard to convey with transcribed quotes, so I put his most animated comments in all caps. And, of course, you can always just watch the first eight minutes of the video to hear Petrino (the middle few minutes are the best).
"We’re a heck of a lot better football team right now than we were at North Texas, than we were at Wyoming. So we’re really improving," he said. "But to beat Northern Illinois that beat Iowa and played in a BCS bowl game, you can’t, you can’t … like I should just be able to answer those to you: ‘They played great.’ You know what I’m saying. That’s how you’ve got to say it. 'QUARTERBACKS PLAYED GOOD. OFFENSIVE LINE BLOCKED GOOD.' Instead of going, ‘Well, they were good sometimes, they were bad sometimes.’ If you’re good and bad, you’re not going to beat Northern Illinois. They’re too good of a football team.
"So we showed great improvement, but we’ve got to a ways to go still to be tough enough and have enough COURAGE to FIGHT through the whole thing and find a way to win."
Then Petrino was asked about his offensive playbook:
"Yeah, just the longer we’re involved in it, the more … God, there’s a couple things I wish … You know, what’s tough is when you don’t have it all in. You know the ADJUSTMENTS to make. When they do this, you do this. …. And we’re just not all the way there yet. There were a couple times where I wanted to call some plays but our guys don’t know ‘em yet.
"Gosh darn, I know I’m going to watch that tape tonight, I’m going to watch that tape tomorrow and there’s going to be a whole bunch of guys that I’m really proud of, that just laid their heart out on the line. What I told them in there, though, was there were a couple guys that probably did it ... what did the offense have the ball? 88 times, the defense was out there 77 plays ... but there might be FOUR PLAYS that they didn’t lay it on the line. Well, one of those four plays might be the difference in the game. You don’t know. You don’t know what play that is.
"That’s why you can’t give in. You’ve got to have courage and strength and FIGHT on every single play, because you don’t know what play it is that’s going to be the difference in the game.
"So we’re still working to get there. But heck, we made big strides. We really improved."
Asked about the improvement one more time, he then said this: "We’re getting better every week and I’m happy with that we’re getting better. But just pull out a gun and shoot me in the head if I’m ever happy with freaking losing. You know what I’m saying?"
NOTES -- Idaho has given up at least 40 points in seven of its last eight games dating back to 2012. The other game was a 34-27 loss to UTSA. ... The announced crowd was 14,071 but appeared considerably smaller. ... Idaho safety Trey Williams (undisclosed injury) left the game in the first half and didn’t return. Defensive end Quinton Bradley (shoulder) left in the fourth quarter. ... Josh McCain, who got dinged up, and running back Richard Montgomery (cramps) missed time during the game but returned. ... The Vandals played eight true freshmen, per the participation report: Montgomery, CB Desmon Banks, K/P Austin Rehkow, S Jordan Grabski, WR Jacob Sannon (on special teams), WR Trent Cowan, FB Kevin Shelton and DL Tueni Luepamanu.