The Northern Illinois University Huskies, champions of the Mid-American Conference for the third time in the last four years, will meet Conference USA champion Marshall Thundering Herd in the inaugural Boca Raton Bowl in Boca Raton, Fla.
Sean T. Frazier, NIU associate vice president and director of Athletics, and the league made the announcement Sunday.
“Congratulations first to our team and coaches for putting themselves in this position with a fantastic season, capped off with a dominating performance Friday night in the MAC Championship game,” Frazier said. “I am so excited that this NIU team is going to be able to take on a quality opponent like Marshall in a big-time game in south Florida.
“There are many people that were instrumental in making this historic opportunity happen for our players and staff,” Frazier said. “Thanks go to MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher and his staff, NIU President Doug Baker and all of the league’s bowl partners. I know (Boca Raton Bowl Executive Director) Doug Mosley and his staff will provide our team and our fans with an outstanding experience in Boca Raton.”
Tickets for the Boca Raton Bowl will go on sale later today through the NIU Athletics Ticket Office for $40 each. The tickets can be ordered online through NIUHuskies.com and beginning Monday at 9 a.m. (CT) by calling (815) 753-PACK (7225). Fans can also fill out and print the order form and fax to (815) 752-6801.
The Huskie Athletic Fund Priority Seating deadline is 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11. Seat locations will be determined based on 2014 donor level and then priority points within each level. All tickets ordered through NIU by Thursday, Dec. 11 will be mailed. Tickets ordered after that date will be available for pick-up in Boca Raton. The final deadline to purchase tickets through NIU is 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 19.
NIU will offer travel packages for fans to the Boca Raton Bowl through its new travel partner for 2014, Anthony Travel. For information on available packages, go to www.AnthonyTravel.com/niu.
With the invitation to the Boca Raton Bowl, NIU extends its school and MAC record for consecutive bowl seasons to seven and the Huskies will play in a bowl for the ninth time in the last 11 years. The Huskies will play in a bowl game for the 10th time in its history as a major college program (since 1969) and for the 15th time overall.
NIU comes into the game on a seven-game winning streak after defeating MAC East Champion Bowling Green, 51-17, in the Marathon MAC Championship game on Friday night at Ford Field in Detroit. The Huskies won their third MAC title in the last four seasons and are the only team in the country to win 11 or more games over each of the last five seasons.
NIU Head Coach Rod Carey, who has led NIU to a 23-5 record since being named head coach prior to the Huskies’ last trip to Florida for a bowl game in the 2013 Orange Bowl, said the Huskies and NIU fans can look forward to the trip back to south Florida and to the match-up versus Marshall.
“We’re super-excited for our team and our fans to go back to a bowl game in Florida,” Carey said. “In terms of the location, the opponent and the date, it’s ideal for our players and for our fans. This is our second bowl game in Florida, and last time we were there, we had a great turnout and I look forward to a lot of fans coming back to Florida with us.
“As far as bowl games, you’re going to have two conference champions going at it, and you don’t get that in many, if any, bowl games outside of the College Football Playoff,” Carey said. “It’s an unbelievable match-up. We have a ton of respect for Marshall, Coach Holliday and their staff and what they have done this year.”
Marshall is 12-1 on the season with the only blemish on its record a 67-66 loss to Western Kentucky in overtime on Nov. 28. The Herd defeated Louisiana Tech, 26-23, in the Conference USA Championship game on Saturday. Marshall, which was a member of the MAC from 1997-2004, defeated three MAC East teams – Miami, Ohio and Akron – during its 11-0 start to the 2014 season.
NIU and Marshall have played seven times, with the Huskies holding a 4-3 edge in the series all-time. The teams met in 1999 and 2001 as members of the MAC, with the Thundering Herd winning both contests, including the most recent game on Oct. 6, 2001 (37-15). Prior to that, NIU won four of the five games played between 1969 and 1974, with the Huskies’ most recent win over MU on Oct. 12, 1974 at Marshall (20-17).
Frazier said the Huskies’ MAC Championship and appearance in the Boca Raton Bowl fuels the momentum being generated throughout NIU’s entire campus. NIU Athletics continues to move forward not only through the football team’s on-field success but through the recently released Athletics Facilities Master Plan, and the Huskies’ Graduation Success Rates, which lead the MAC.
For more information on NIU football and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.