Eleventh annual bowl game matches Mountain West and MAC
SAN DIEGO – The Boise State University Broncos and the Northern Illinois University Huskies have both accepted an invitation to play in the 11th annual San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, Executive Director of the San Diego Bowl Games Mark Neville announced today. It marks the second appearance in the San Diego bowl game for the Broncos and the third for the Huskies. It will be the first time these two teams have met on the gridiron.
The SDCCU Poinsettia Bowl kicks off at 1:30 pm PST on Wednesday, December 23rd at Qualcomm Stadium and will be televised on ESPN. This year the game will be followed by the inaugural fireworks show, Stadium Spectacular, a first-of-its-kind display featuring pyrotechnics never before seen in North America.
The Broncos finished the regular season 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West. The NIU Huskies are the MAC West Division Champions, finishing 8-5 on the year and 6-2 in conference.
“Boise State and Northern Illinois have been at the top or near the top of their conferences for many years now,” Mark Neville said. “They both play a very exciting brand of football that will be fun to watch here in San Diego. Fans can expect lots of fireworks at Qualcomm Stadium on December 23rd.”
Boise State is making its 14th-consecutive bowl appearance, a streak that ranks tied for sixth nationally. Included in the streak is a previous trip to the Poinsettia Bowl, when the Broncos, ranked ninth-nationally at the time, squared off against 11th-ranked TCU in the 2008 edition of the game.
The Broncos are one of only two teams in the country to rank in the national top 25 in both total offense (488.8) and total defense (342.1), joining Clemson on the list. Boise State also ranks 16th nationally in scoring offense (37.8) and 26th nationally in scoring defense (21.3).
Boise State placed 13 individuals on All-Mountain West Teams in 2015, including six on the First Team – freshman quarterback Brett Rypien, junior wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck, redshirt senior offensive linemen Marcus Henry and Rees Odhiambo, redshirt senior safety Darian Thompson and redshirt junior kicker Tyler Rausa.
Sperbeck led the MW in both receptions (82) and receiving yards (1,334), establishing a Boise State record in the latter statistical category. Thompson set the Mountain West’s career interceptions record in 2015, hauling in five on the season to bring his career total to 19.
Sophomore running back Jeremy McNichols, a second-team All-MW selection this season, is tied with Alabama running back Derrick Henry for the national lead with 23 total touchdowns, while Rausa, a Lou Groza Award semifinalist, is the nation’s fourth-highest-scoring kicker, ranking 10th-nationally overall with 10.1 points per game.
“We’ve been to some first-class bowl games throughout the years, and this is definitely one of them. The Poinsettia Bowl offers a great experience for our student-athletes and fans, and we are excited to be making the trip to San Diego,” said Boise State Head Coach Bryan Harsin.
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 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.
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. With three different quarterbacks starting games after junior Drew Hare went down in the Toledo game and back-up Ryan Graham was injured in the regular season finale versus Ohio, NIU 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.
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.
The NIU defense has 21 interceptions as a team on defense. On offense, the team has scored 56 touchdowns to their opponents’ 38.
“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. We look forward to having the opportunity to send our seniors out the right way. This group of seniors has 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 Head Coach Rod Carey said.
Tickets for the 2015 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl can be purchased by calling TicketMaster at 1-800-745-3000, or by visiting SanDiegoBowlGames.com. Fans can also purchase tickets at Qualcomm Stadium, Window B, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.