It's not a BCS bowl game, but it's a fine way to end a great season.
A loss to Bowling Green in Friday's MAC Championship Game means Northern Illinois won't be heading to a BCS bowl game for the second consecutive season, but the 12-1 Huskies did learn where they will be bowling this winter: They're heading to San Diego to take on Utah State in the Poinsettia Bowl, the team announced Sunday.
"I couldn't be happier about taking this team to California to play in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl," NIU head coach Rod Carey said in a press release. "Everyone has great things to say about the bowl itself, the organization and how the city and community support the game. It's a great reward for a great season by this team, and I know the players will be excited to get back on the field together for their last game."
This won't be NIU's first trip to the Poinsettia Bowl. The Huskies played TCU in the 2006 edition of the game, losing 37-7 in that contest to a team ranked in the top 25.
The 2013 edition, however, will feature a pair of conference runners-up. NIU, obviously, fell in Friday's MAC title game, while Utah State lost the Mountain West championship to Fresno State on Saturday. The Aggies will head into the Poinsettia Bowl with an 8-5 record. It will be Utah State's first time playing in this game.
The Poinsettia Bowl is scheduled to be played at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 26, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.