GAME AT A GLANCE
▪ Who: Boise State (8-4, 5-3 Mountain West) vs. Northern Illinois (8-5, 6-2 Mid-American)
▪ When: 2:30 p.m. MT Wednesday, Dec. 23
▪ Where: Qualcomm Stadium (71,500, grass), San Diego
▪ TV: ESPN
▪ Series: First meeting
▪ Tickets: $39, $61 or $78 at BroncoSports.com/bowlcentral. Tickets about $10 more through SanDiegoBowlGames.com.
▪ Notable events: Stadium Spectacular — a fireworks show that uses technology new to North America — will be staged on the field and above the east scoreboard after the game. The Gaslamp March featuring the schools’ bands playing holiday music is at 6 p.m. Dec. 21. The team luncheon at the USS Midway Museum is at 11:15 a.m. Dec. 22 ($50).
BOISE STATE AT A GLANCE
▪ Coach: Bryan Harsin (20-6, two years at Boise State; 27-11, three years overall)
▪ Season recap: The Broncos beat Washington and Virginia in September to get into the New Year’s Six conversation but struggled in conference play by digging multiple-touchdown deficits in losses to Utah State, New Mexico and Air Force.
▪ Offensive stats: 37.8 points per game (16th in FBS), 488.8 yards per game (18th), 184.3 rushing yards per game (52nd), 304.6 passing yards per game (19th).
▪ Offensive player to watch: Sophomore RB Jeremy McNichols is tied for the national lead with 23 touchdowns. He has rushed for a touchdown in a MW-record 11 straight games and for at least 100 yards in seven straight.
▪ Defensive stats: 21.3 points allowed per game (26th in FBS), 342.1 yards allowed per game (24th), 117.7 rushing yards allowed per game (13th), 224.4 passing yards allowed per game (67th).
▪ Defensive player to watch: Senior safety Darian Thompson, the unit’s MVP, has missed the past two games with a concussion. He’ll conclude his college career in Southern California, where he grew up, and try to add to his Mountain West-record 19 career interceptions.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS AT A GLANCE
▪ Coach: Rod Carey (31-11, three years)
▪ Season recap: The Huskies lost by seven to Ohio State and three to Boston College during a 2-3 start but reeled off six straight wins and reached the MAC championship game (lost to Bowling Green with their third starting QB of the season, a true freshman walk-on).
▪ Offensive stats: 33.0 points per game (T-42nd in FBS), 426.6 yards per game (45th), 205.1 rushing yards per game (29th), 221.5 passing yards per game (65th).
▪ Offensive player to watch: RB Joel Bouagnon has rushed for 1,269 yards and 18 touchdowns but hasn’t been as effective since the Huskies’ starting QB was injured. He has 51 carries for 164 yards (3.2 per carry) and one touchdown in the past three games — and will face a Boise State defense that is stout against non-option rushing attacks.
▪ Defensive stats: 25.5 points allowed per game (55th in FBS), 400.2 yards allowed per game (68th), 166.8 rushing yards allowed per game (66th), 233.4 passing yards allowed per game (77th).
▪ Defensive player to watch: CB Shawun Lurry leads FBS with nine INTs, including two against Ohio State, and ranks second with 23 passes defended.