DEKALB – In the program, they refer to it as a “Boneyard Win.”
That’s when Northern Illinois defeats a team from a “Power 5” conference opponent, which had happened 16 times before Saturday night’s game against Georgia Tech. Some may not have expected the 17th since the Huskies arrived in Atlanta having not won a game in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
But Thomas Hammock’s team, which features a number of returning starters from last year’s squad, had a surprise for their ACC opponent on Saturday.
The Huskies pulled off a 22-21 victory over the Yellow Jackets to get that 17th “Boneyard” victory and their first win over an ACC team since a memorable win over No. 15 Maryland to open the 2003 season in DeKalb.
It’s bought some attention to the team in what’s easily the biggest victory of the Hammock era that began in 2019. They’ll bring that momentum back home for their first game at Huskie Stadium with fans in nearly two season on Saturday when they host Wyoming.
Unlike other coaches, Hammock wants his team to embrace the extra attention they’ve received this week.
“It’s hard to have a ’24 Hour Rule’ with social media,” said Hammock, referring to the often used cliche of forgetting a victory quickly. “Everybody’s going to have something new. Back in the day, they’d write a story about the game and then it’s over. Now there’s something new coming out on social media.
“So you know what I told them? I said embrace it. If you want people to talk about you, continue to play well.”
Northern Illinois is one of the four teams spotlighted in this week’s “Campus Check-In” on WGN News Now in this Week 2 of the 2021 season.
Notre Dame has their home opener against Toledo after an overtime win over Florida State on Sunday night. They’ll be on short rest as they face the Rockets, whom Brian Kelly showed great respect to during his Monday news conference, which you can see in the video above.
You can also hear from Pat Fitzgerald as he showed confidence in his defense after a rough loss to Michigan State and Bret Bielema after the Illini lost to UTSA. See preview of the Wildcats’ game with Indiana State and the Illini’s trip to Virginia in the video above.