DeKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois University Huskies will close out a record-setting 2013 campaign in sunny San Diego, Calif. at the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, NIU, bowl and MAC officials announced Sunday. NIU (12-1), ranked No. 23 (USA Today)/No. 24 (Associated Press) will take on Utah State (8-5) of the Mountain West Conference at 8:30 p.m. CT at Qualcomm Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN.
NIU will extend its streak of consecutive seasons with a bowl game to six, a MAC record, and will play in a bowl game for the eighth time in the last 10 years. The Huskies previously played in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl in 2006 when they lost to TCU. NIU is 4-4 in bowl games as a major college team (since 1969) with a 5-8 record in bowls all-time.
The Huskies, who won the MAC West title and became the first team from the Mid-American Conference to win two games over Big Ten teams in the same season, also won seven road games in 2013 while playing games from Moscow, Idaho to Foxborough, Mass., are looking forward to this final trip of 2013, said NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Sean T. Frazier.
“We are extremely excited to accept the invitation to play in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl,” Frazier said. “I want to thank Bruce Binkowsky and the entire Poinsettia Bowl Committee and Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher and the staff of the MAC for providing our players and coaches, fans and families with this excellent opportunity. It’s going to be a great game and a fantastic experience in a wonderful city.”
Tickets for the 2013 Poinsettia Bowl game can be purchased for $65 (club level), $50 (field/plaza level) or $30 (plaza/general admission) via the Tickets page at NIUHuskies.com, or access the link through the Bowl Central page on the website. The links will be live beginning at 10 a.m. (CT) Monday, Dec. 9. Fans can also call the NIU Athletics Ticket Office in the Convocation Center at 815-753-PACK (7225) during regular business hours. Information on travel packages for Huskie fans to San Diego will be available soon on NIUSportsTravel.com. Keep checking the “Bowl Central” website on NIUHuskies.com for all of the latest information on the Huskies’ latest bowl trip.
NIU opened the season with a school-record 12 consecutive victories behind dynamic dual-threat Heisman Trophy candidate Jordan Lynch. Lynch, who has run for an NCAA quarterback record 1,881 yards and passed for 2,676 while rushing for 22 scores and passing for 23, leads the nation’s fifth-ranked offense into San Diego. The two-time MAC MVP as winner of the Vern Smith Leadership Award, and a finalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Yar honor, Lynch has set four NCAA records this season.
Lynch leads the most prolific offense in NIU history as receivers Tommylee Lewis (80 catches) and Da’Ron Brown (nine touchdowns, 16.4 yards/catch) and fellow 1,000-yard rusher Cameron Stingily complement his abilities. Defensively, the Huskies feature one of the top safeties in the MAC in senior Jimmie Ward, who has six of NIU’s 17 interceptions on the season and leads NIU with 89 tackles. Defensive tackle Ken Bishop is a force in the middle with 65 stops as the Huskies have held six of their last eight opponents to 20 points or less.
After falling to Bowling Green in the 2013 Marathon MAC Championship game Friday night, NIU Head Coach Rod Carey said he and the team are eager to play again.
“I couldn’t be happier about taking this team to California to play in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl,” Carey said. “Everyone has great things to say about the bowl itself, the organization and how the city and community support the game. It’s a great reward for a great season by this team, and I know the players will be excited to get back on the field together for their last game.”
NIU and Utah State will meet for the second time. The Huskies and Aggies previously played on Oct. 14, 1995 as members of the Big West Conference with Utah State claiming a 42-7 victory. The Huskies will face a team from the Mountain West Conference in a bowl for the second time and is 0-1 in those games after falling to TCU in San Diego in 2006.
Utah State is playing in its school-record third straight bowl game. After opening the year with a 3-4 record, the Aggies won the last five games of the regular season to win the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference before falling to Fresno State in the Mountain West Championship game.
This is the ninth year that the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl will be played. For more information, check the bowl’s website at www.PoinsettiaBowl.com and follow the bowl on Facebook (Poinsettia Bowl) and Twitter (@PoinsettiaBowl).