College football’s bowl-busters will meet for the first time Wednesday afternoon in the Poinsettia Bowl.
NIU and Boise State were the first two schools not from the Power Five Conferences that made it to major bowl games. NIU went to the Orange Bowl three years ago. Boise State first broke through with a Fiesta Bowl trip in 2007. The Broncos have been back to the Fiesta Bowl twice since then.
“Boise is the benchmark for the Group of Five teams,” says NIU coach Rod Carey. “They have been to date, and what a great opponent to play a team like that. That in and of itself should excite you.”
Boise State has the best winning percentage in the country since 2000 winning 85 percent of its games. The Broncos have had 18 consecutive winning seasons. That’s the second longest streak in the nation.
They’re appearing in their 14th straight bowl game.
The Huskies credentials aren’t too shabby either. They’ve won 78 percent of their games since 2010..one of the best percentages in the nation. They’re making their eighth straight trip to a bowl game.
This will be the first time these two schools have ever met in football.
Both teams have eight wins this season. Boise State finished second in the Mountain West Conference Mountain Division.
The Broncos have the 18th ranked offense in the nation led by freshman quarterback Brett Rypien. He’s the nephew of former Redskins quarterback and Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien.
“Everybody keeps saying yea he’s going to be really good. From my eye he is really good. There’s no waiting. He is good,” says Carey.
Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols has rushed for more than 1200 yards and his 23 touchdowns ties him with Alabama’s Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry for the most in the nation.
NIU counters with the MAC’s rushing leader Joel Bouagnon.
Boise State receiver Thomas Sperbeck has more than 1300 receiving yards.
NIU receiver Kenny Golladay has more than 1100 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches.
Boise State has a second team All-American defensive back in Darian Thompson. NIU has a first team All-American defensive back in Shuwan Lurry.
So maybe it is only the Poinsettia Bowl, and maybe it’s not a matchup of glamor schools, but this should be a game well worth watching. It’ll kickoff at 3:30 p.m. central time Wednesday on ESPN.