There had been speculation in recent weeks that NIU football may venture to where no other team in NIU or MAC history had ever been before: a BCS Bowl game.
Senior defensive end Sean Progar and other players heard the rumors but never dreamed of having the chance to play in a BCS Bowl game.
“You know, we started to hear a little bit of chatter of a BSC opportunity this year, towards the end of the season,” Progar said. “It was a little bit surreal, you don’t really realize it, I don’t think I’ll be able to process it fully for a few days. I’m excited about the opportunity and I know my teammates are.”
The MAC champions, No. 15-ranked Huskies’ (12-1, 9-0 MAC) dream of playing in a BCS Bowl game became a reality Sunday, when they were given a bid to the Orange Bowl.
The Huskies’ bid to the Orange Bowl is a historic moment in NIU history, as it is NIU’s first bid to a BCS Bowl game.
“This is unprecedented for our conference and for our university,” said Jeff Compher, associate vice president and director of athletics. “This will go down as a seminal day in the history of our university and of our football program. It’s a day that all of our alumni, current students and fans will remember forever with tremendous pride.”
NIU will take on the ACC champions, No. 13-ranked Florida State Seminoles, in Miami on New Years Day.
Rod Carey, the Huskies’ new head coach, summed up the team’s matchup with the Seminoles (11-2, 7-1 ACC) quite simply:
“[The game is] the biggest,” Carey said. “You can say it that easy: It’s the biggest. I mean, football and athletics are the front porch of this university, and here we go.”
While the Huskies are happy with the position they are in, there are those who feel other teams deserved to be in the Huskies place and the Huskies were not worthy to play in a BSC Bowl game.
“There’s nothing you can say to them,” said senior cornerback Demetrius Stone. “That’s when you go out there and prove what we can do, and we’ve been doing it as long as we’ve been here, as long as I’ve been here.
“We’ve been showing people that we are a good team, so now we got the chance to take this opportunity we have to show them that we’re a good team, against a team from, I guess you could say a bigger conference.”
Junior quarterback Jordan Lynch is excited about the opportunity he and the Huskies have and is ready to prove the Huskies belong and are worthy of a BCS bid.
“Anytime we get a chance to play against a big team, or a team that we pretty much grew up watching on TV every Saturday, during football season, you know we’re going to be hungry,” Lynch said. “We’re going to be excited, I know a lot of us might even loss sleep over it, but they’re going to get our A game.”