Northern Illinois Longs to Belong

Northern Illinois Longs to Belong

Kirk Herbstreit “loves” the MAC. We know this because he said as much during ESPN’s BCS selection show, in between his own references to Northern Illinois’ Orange Bowl berth as both a “sad state for college football” and an “absolute joke.”

Gee, thanks, Herbie!

It’s not hard to figure out what’s motivating the Huskies these days. Ever since their surprise jump to 15th in the BCS standings locked them into a Jan. 1 date with heavily favored Florida State, they’ve been doubted and insulted, dissed and dismissed. Given their opportunity to score the biggest win in the history of their program—and their conference—the Huskies are every bit as bound and determined as Notre Dame or Alabama to end the season with a bang.

“Obviously, we’re coming from the MAC so we expect most people to doubt us,” senior defensive end Sean Progar said on NIU’s campus a week before Christmas. “I’m sure they don’t feel we belong.”

The oddsmakers certainly don’t: NIU is a two-touchdown underdog vs. the 11-2 champions of the ACC.

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