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Northwestern, NIU Go Bowling

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Dec 7, 2009 3:20PM

Now that the games have been played and we're left with a mildly satisfactory BCS Championship game - well, if you ignore the three other unbeaten teams, that is - what about our local teams? Lots of Chicago-based Hawkeyes fans are excited for Iowa's trip to the Orange Bowl where they'll take on Georgia Tech. And we already know Notre Dame, though they qualified at 6-6, elected not to go to a bowl due to the current coaching vacancy. Meanwhile, some other area teams are pumped to be going bowling.

2009_12_07_Outback_Bowl.jpg Perhaps the biggest story for area football has to be Northwestern slipping in to a New Year's Day Outback Bowl slot against an equally-excited-to-be-playing-on-January-1 team, the SEC's Auburn Tigers [full disclosure: this vagabond hack blogger is a life-long Auburn fan due in part to brainwashing from family members who attended the school]. It'll be a tough match-up for the Wildcats; Auburn is averaging 33 points a game and has had - at times - one of the SEC's most explosive offenses. But they've also had their fair share of offensive implosions under first year head coach Gene Chizik and is coming off a heartbreaking loss to #1 Alabama in the annual Iron Bowl. Meanwhile, Northwestern will coast into Orlando on a three-game winning streak that includes a pair of upsets over Iowa and Wisconsin. It'll be the first meeting between the two teams. Northwestern hasn't won a bowl game since the 1949 Rose Bowl, including last year's overtime loss to Missouri in the Alamo Bowl while Auburn last won two years ago, defeating Clemson in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

Outback Bowl, Northwestern vs Auburn, January 1, 10 a.m., Orlando, FL, ESPN

2009_12_07_international_bowlx.jpg Meanwhile, Northern Illinois managed to land themselves a bowl game north of the border. The Huskies will travel to Toronto where, on January 2, they'll face the University of South Florida in the International Bowl. It's the fifth Division I-A (or FBS or whatever they call it now) bowl appearance for the Huskies, their fourth in six years, and the first back-to-back bowl seasons in the school's history (they lost to Louisiana Tech in last year's Independence Bowl). NIU was one of five MAC schools that received bowl invites. Both teams will enter the game 7-5.

International Bowl, NIU vs Univ. South Florida, January 2, 11 a.m., Toronto, Canada, ESPN2