Dec. 6, 2009
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DeKALB, Ill. - For the first time since joining the major college ranks in 1969, the Northern Illinois football team will play in bowl games in back-to-back seasons as the Huskies accepted on Sunday an invitation to play in the International Bowl in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
NIU (7-5, 5-3 in the Mid-American Conference) will take on the University of South Florida (USF) of the BIG EAST Conference in the game, which will be played Saturday, Jan. 2 at 11 a.m. (CST). The game will be played in the Rogers Centre in Toronto and televised on ESPN2.
"This is a great time for the Huskies," said NIU Head Coach Jerry Kill, who has led Northern Illinois to a bowl in each of his two seasons at the school. "It's the first time that NIU will be in back-to-back bowl games as an FBS school, which is a huge accomplishment for our seniors and another step forward for our program. We're very excited about the International Bowl and the opportunity for our players and fans to have a first-class experience in a beautiful stadium and a great city."
Beginning Monday, December 7, tickets for the 2010 International Bowl game can be purchased through the "Bowl Central" page on the Northern Illinois website, or by calling the NIU Athletics Ticket Office at 815-752-6800 for $40 each.
Northern Illinois will play in its fifth major college bowl game all-time and is in a bowl for the fourth time in the past six years and for the third time in the last four seasons. A year ago, in head coach Jerry Kill's first season, Northern Illinois played in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. where they fell to Louisiana Tech, 17-10 to drop its bowl record to 2-2. The International Bowl game will be the third for the Huskies' senior class as NIU played in the 2006 Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, Calif.
NIU and USF (7-5, 3-4 BIG EAST) will play for the third time with the series tied 1-1. The Huskies defeated the Bulls, 20-17, in DeKalb in the 2001 season opener and fell to USF in Tampa on Sept. 7, 2002 by a 37-6 score. The Huskies will play a BIG EAST opponent in a bowl game for the first time.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for our program versus a tremendous opponent as we know South Florida is a very good football program from a great league," Kill said. "It will be a great challenge for our team."
Northern Illinois finished second in the MAC West behind league champion Central Michigan with a 5-3 league record, while the Huskies' non-conference schedule was highlighted by a 28-21 victory over Purdue on Sept. 19. That win was NIU's second all-time over a Big Ten opponent. Northern Illinois won four straight games from Oct. 24 to Nov. 12 to clinch a winning season.
The Huskies' boast the number one rushing offense in the Mid-American Conference and leads the league in total defense. Offensively, NIU is led by junior tailback Chad Spann, who gained 945 rushing yards and scored 20 touchdowns in 2009, while junior defensive lineman Jake Coffman leads the Huskie defense with 7.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss on the year.
Northern Illinois Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher, who announced to the team that it had received the International Bowl invite during the Huskies' annual football banquet Sunday night, congratulated the squad on earning the post-season nod.
"This is what our team has worked for all year," Compher said. "I could not be happier for our team and our university, especially our seniors, to finish their careers with another bowl trip. It is an honor for Northern Illinois to be in a MAC-affiliated bowl for the first time and I know Coach Kill and the team are determined to represent the MAC well. This will be a wonderful trip for our players, our fans, our band and our students to a great international city. This opportunity is what college football is all about."
NIU also announced several ticket incentives as all donors to the Huskie Athletic Scholarship Fund and NIU football season ticket holders who purchase a minimum of two (2) bowl tickets through NIU Athletics by December 15 will receive one (1) bowl gift and a coupon good for a FREE official bowl t-shirt from the Village Commons Bookstore in DeKalb. Any NIU fan not a member of the above two groups who purchases two International Bowl tickets through Northern Illinois will receive a coupon good for FREE bowl apparel from the Village Commons Bookstore in DeKalb. Vouchers will be mailed to ticket purchasers.
Compher said that Northern Illinois will offer one FREE ticket to the first 500 Northern Illinois students who request them. To obtain their free ticket (one per student), students should come to the Convocation Center Ticket Office or call the office at 815-752-6800. Proper identification will be required before FREE student tickets are distributed.
Northern Illinois will post complete information on the International Bowl, including ticket and stadium details, as well as travel information and packages for fans and students at www.niuhuskies.com.
-- NIU --