Harris shines in Bowling Green's win over Huskies

Updated: October 26, 2003, 2:14 PM ET

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio -- Running through a nonconference schedule full of big-name opponents proved a lot easier for Northern Illinois than getting through the Mid-American Conference unscathed.

The Huskies' bid to bust up the Bowl Championship Series was done in by a spectacular performance by Bowling Green quarterback Josh Harris. Now the Huskies could have trouble getting any bowl bid much less a BCS one.

Harris ran and passed his way to 527 yards of total offense and Bowling Green's swarming defense dominated in a 34-18 win Saturday. Harris threw for three touchdowns and 438 yards, but it was his ability to scramble out of trouble or find a receiver while on the run that stood out.

"What a great performance," Northern Illinois coach Joe Novak said. "Harris sees the ball all 80 plays and he determines what happens. That makes it tough."

Harris has been making it tough for three seasons in the Mid-American Conference. He is 20-5 as a starter and has helped lead a dramatic turnaround for the 17th-ranked Falcons (7-1, 4-0), who posted six consecutive losing seasons before 2001.

"I've been saying for a long time this team is special," Harris said. "I think it showed today."

It may be too late for the "Harris for Heisman" signs that dotted Doyt Perry Stadium, but the senior who was passed over by bigger schools because he insisted on playing quarterback has made a name for himself.

"If there's a better quarterback in America, who is he?" Bowling Green coach Gregg Brandon asked.

Harris picked his biggest stage to play his best game. Only once before -- in 1973 -- had two MAC teams ranked in the Top 25 met in the regular season.

The Huskies (7-1, 3-1) were just one of five unbeaten teams in major college football coming into the week. They had trailed in all but one of their victories this year, including wins over Maryland, Iowa State and Alabama.

But this time, they fell behind too far and too early.

It forced the Huskies to pass more than they wanted and took away Michael Turner, who came into the game for the Huskies as the nation's second leading rusher averaging 132 yards a game

Turner had just 87 yards on 18 carries.

The loss takes the Huskies, 10th in the first BCS standings, out of the running for a major bowl bid. That's the way it is in the MAC where one loss means much more than in other conferences.

With only two bowl tie-ins in the MAC, making any bowl is not a given for the Huskies. Even so, Novak wasn't about to dwell on the loss.

"We're 7-1 -- it's not like the season is over," Novak said.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index