SAN DIEGO—Jeremy McNichols scored Boise State’s first touchdown before the some of the Broncos’ fans found their seats. By the end of the first quarter, the score was McNichols 21-Northern Illinois 0. The Broncos kept on scoring to win 55-7 in the 2015 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
The game was one for the record books. McNichol’s first touchdown was scored 58 seconds into the game, the fastest touchdown in Poinsettia Bowl history. Boise State’s 21-point first quarter was the most points scored in a quarter in Poinsettia Bowl history. The Broncos’ 31-point first half was the most points scored in any half in any Poinsettia Bowl. Boise State’s Tyler Rausa kicked his 24th and 25th field goals of the season, tying then setting the Broncos school record. The 55 points scored by Boise State is a Poinsettia Bowl record. The seven points scored by Northern Illinois ties the Poinsettia Bowl record for fewest points. The 48-point margin of victory is a new Poinsettia Bowl record.
Northern Illinois did not help itself in the first half. The Huskies responded well to the Broncos’ quick score, marching 42 yards after starting on their own 25. However, NIU quarterback Ryan Graham fumbled the ball at the Boise State 26. Six plays later, Boise State was up 14-0.
The Huskies went three and out on their next three possessions. By the end of the first half, Northern Illinois had one-yard rushing and 35 yards passing.
Boise State, on the other hand, could almost do no wrong. Quarterback Brett Rypien (Washington Redskins’ quarterback Mark Rypien’s nephew) finished the first half with a Quarterback Rating of 194.0. Rypien was 20-24 for 252 yards and two touchdowns. McNichols finished the first half with 88 yards rushing and 66 yards receiving. Receivers Tyler Sperbeck and Shane Williams-Rhodes each had five receptions for 60 and 58 yards, respectively.
Offensive statistics aside, the story of the game was the Broncos’ defense. Boise State held Northern Illinois to 33 yards total offense (a Poinsettia Bowl record, the negative five yards rushing was also a Poinsettia Bowl record); by comparison the Huskies had 30 yards in penalties. Graham was scrambling out of trouble for most of the game, completing only seven passes out of 21 attempts. His longest pass completion went for 11 yards. Additionally, he was sacked five times and fumbled the ball twice; both fumbles leading to Boise State points. Northern Illinois converted only one third down in their 12 opportunities. Three first have possessions resulted in fumbles; the Huskies punted on their last seven possessions, including the last possession of the first half. Northern Illinois punted the ball a total of nine times, tying a Poinsettia Bowl record.
Northern Illinois did have almost twice as many tackles as Boise State; this could be attributed to Boise State being on the field for almost twice as many plays; also, the Broncos time of possession was 43 minutes of a 60-minute game.
Northern Illinois Head Coach Rod Carey: “We were disappointed with the game, but proud of the team for what we accomplished this season. We lost the game, which we’re not used to, but there was never any quit.”
Boise State finished the night with 654 yards total offense (Poinsettia Bowl record). Rypien finished with a QBR of 175.8; he was 29-39 for 377 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. The 29 completions is a Poinsettia Bowl record; the three touchdown passes tied a Poinsettia Bowl record. The 377 yards were four yards short of tying the Poinsettia Bowl record. McNichols had 19 carries for 93 yards and two touchdowns; he also had 96 yards receiving on five receptions. Ryan Wolpin gained 89 yards rushing on 14 carries. Williams-Rhodes led all receivers with eight catches, which led to 94 yards. Williams-Rhodes also rushed the ball three times for 34 yards to finish with 128 all-purpose yards. Sperbeck finished with six receptions for 78 yards.
Boise State Head Coach Bryan Harsin: “It was a great opportunity; great for our seniors to get their 40th win. It really was about one more time for this group. We wanted to win the game. We didn’t know it would go this well. Tonight the players took the game over on the field. We did not have to do much coaching.”
Boise State finishes the year 9-4. This was the first Poinsettia Bowl win for the Broncos. Defensive Player of the Game was Kamalei Correa. Offensive Player of the Game was Brett Rypien.
Northern Illinois finishes 8-6.