The Northern Illinois University Huskies, champions of the Mid-American Conference West Division and winners of 65 games over the last six seasons, will meet Boise State of the Mountain West Conference in the 2015 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, officials from NIU, the bowl and MAC announced Sunday.
The game between NIU (8-5, 6-2 MAC) and Boise State (8-4, 5-3 MWC) will be played Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 1:30 p.m. (PST)/3:30 p.m. (CST) at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego and will air nationally on ESPN.
In making its third appearance in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, NIU extends the school and MAC record for consecutive bowl seasons to eight. The Huskies will play in a bowl for the 10th time in the last 12 years, for the 11th time in its history as a major college program (since 1969) and for the 16th time overall. The Huskies previously played in the Poinsettia Bowl in 2006, a 37-7 loss to TCU, and in 2013, falling 21-14 to Utah State.
NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Sean T. Frazier said the Huskies and their fans are excited to return to one of the best bowl cities in the nation.
“We are extremely excited to be returning to San Diego and the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl,” Frazier said. “It is a fantastic location and I know the Poinsettia Bowl staff, led by Mark Neville, will do a tremendous job of making sure our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans have a memorable bowl experience.
“What I am really looking forward to is the opportunity for our team to take on Boise State, one of the premiere programs in the nation this decade and a model program to emulate based on their body of work. We really couldn’t ask for a better match-up.”
The Huskies have played more games over the last six seasons than any team in the nation with three MAC Championships and a pair of bowl wins during that time. NIU made its sixth straight appearance in the Marathon Mid-American Conference Championship game at Ford Field in Detroit last Friday night, dropping a 34-14 decision to Bowling Green.
The 2015 Huskies overcame a loss in its first league game of the season with six straight victories, including wins over No. 20 Toledo (32-27) and Western Michigan (27-19), to earn the MAC West title. Offensively, NIU has been led by first team All-MAC tailback Joel Bouagnon, who has rushed for 1,269 yards on 275 carries with 18 touchdowns this season. NIU also has relied on its senior leaders on the offensive line where center Andrew Ness and guard Aidan Conlon, both first team All-MAC selections, have started a school record and nation-leading 55 consecutive games. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay leads the receiving corps with 71 catches for 1,122 yards and 10 touchdowns, while kickoff return man Aregeros Turner was named the league’s Special Teams Player of the Year and has set the school records for kickoff returns and return yards.
The Huskie defense features sophomore cornerback Shawun Lurry, the national leader in interceptions with nine, and in interception return yards (273). Lurry and leading tackler Boomer Mays (108 tackles), who made a career-high 16 stops in the MAC Championship game, as well as defensive end Perez Ford (five sacks) were all first team all-league choices. NIU led the MAC with eight first team all-conference selections.
NIU Head Coach Rod Carey will lead the Huskies into a bowl game for the fourth time as he made his head coaching debut in the 2013 Orange Bowl game versus Florida State.
“The [San Diego County Credit Union] Poinsettia Bowl is a first-class bowl and we’re very excited to go back out to San Diego and play a quality opponent in Boise State,” Carey said. “We look forward to having the opportunity to send our seniors out the right way. This group of seniors have played in four straight MAC Championships, with two victories, and now in four straight bowl games. I know they will be focused on ending their careers on a high note.”
NIU and Boise State, two of the winningest teams in college football over the last six years, will meet for the first time in the 2015 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
Boise State tied for second place in the Mountain West Conference Mountain Division with a 5-3 record in league play to go with an 8-4 overall mark. The Broncos opened the season with a win over Washington and also defeated Virginia during their non-conference season. They are led by quarterback Brett Rypien, the Mountain West Freshman of the Year and one of 13 Boise State named to the All-Mountain West Conference team, including six first-team selections. The Broncos average 37.8 points per game while giving up just 21.3.