The Huskies (10-3, 7-1 MAC) and Arkansas State (10-2, 8-0 SBC) will face off in Ladd-Peebles Stadium at 8 p.m. (CST). The game will be televised nationally by ESPN.
“We were the first selection among teams from our league which is an honor, NIU coach Dave Doeren said. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase our players and our program on national television the night before the national championship game.”
Northern Illinois, which claimed its first Mid-American Conference Championship since 1983 Friday night in Detroit with a 23-20 comeback victory over Ohio, has won at least 10 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history. The Huskies have a chance to match last season’s school-record 11-win season and will ride an eight-game winning streak into the bowl game. Northern Illinois is led by senior quarterback Chandler Harnish, who won the Vern Smith Leadership Award as the top player in the MAC.
The Red Wolves won the Sun Belt Conference title outright with a 45-14 victory over Troy Saturday at ASU Stadium to improve to 10-2 overall, 8-0 in the league. Arkansas State is just the third school in SBC history to finish undefeated in league play and the Red Wolves won 10 games for the first time since 1986.
The bowl contest will mark the eighth all-time meeting between the teams. NIU owns a 6-1 lead in the series, which included three games played as Big West Conference foes from 1993-95. Northern Illinois won the last meeting, 31-30, on Sept. 21, 1996 in Jonesboro.
Northern Illinois will offer free tickets to NIU students who can attend the game. Students can pick up their free ticket (one per student) at the NIU Convocation Center Ticket Office beginning Thursday, Dec. 8 at Noon. Proper identification will be required.