Bronco Beat

Boise State football to play Northern Illinois in Poinsettia Bowl; Utah State-Akron in Potato

The Boise State football team will play Northern Illinois (8-5) of the Mid-American Conference in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23 in San Diego.

The matchup was announced Sunday. The 2:30 p.m. MT game airs on ESPN. Ticket and travel info is available here. Tickets are $39 (field level, east end zone), $61 (field and plaza level) and $78 (club level) through Boise State.

The Broncos lost to TCU in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl, their only previous appearance in the game.

Since then, the Broncos (8-4) are 5-1 in bowl games. The only loss was in the 2013 Hawaii Bowl, when they were led by interim coach Bob Gregory during the transition from Chris Petersen to Bryan Harsin.

Boise State Athletic Director Curt Apsey said the Poinsettia Bowl was the front-runner for the Broncos as soon as they beat San Jose State in the regular-season finale. The only other option considered was the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise.

“We talk a lot about the experiencce for our players and our coaches,” Apsey said. “Not that the bowl here in Boise isn’t a great experience, but we play here six times a year and it’s always good when we can get out of town and do something different. None of these guys have been to this bowl before. It’s obviously great for recruiting. A lot of our guys are from down there, so a lot of their families are going to be able to come up. ... I don’t think there’d be anything wrong with us playing in the Idaho Potato Bowl. We certainly talked about it. But San Diego just seemed for us the appropriate choice this year and we’re just fortunate that we had a chance to say, ‘Yes.’ ”

Northern Illinois lost in the MAC title game. The Huskies were playing with their third quarterback but might get their backup back for the bowl game. The Huskies beat UNLV by eight, lost to Ohio State by seven, lost to Boston College by three and beat then-No. 24 Toledo by five this season. They have lost their past two games, against Ohio (26-21) and Bowling Green (34-14).

Walk-on true freshman Tommy Fiedler made his first career start against Bowling Green. Starter Drew Hare was injured in the Toledo game and is out for the season. Backup Ryan Graham was injured in the second half of the Ohio game. He hasn’t been ruled out for the bowl game.

Northern Illinois ranks 20th in the nation in total offense (476 yards per game) and 19th in scoring (37.5 points per game). The Huskies are 75th in toatl defense (413.4 yards per game) and tied f or 50th in scoring defense (24.8 points per game).

Kick returner Aregeros Turner was the MAC Special Teams Player of the Year (25.2-yard average on kickoff returns). Other All-MAC first-teamers: OL Willie Beavers, OL Aidan Conlon, RB Joel Bouagnon (1,269 rushing yards, 18 TDs), K Christian Hagan, LB Boomer Mays (108 tackles), DL Perez Ford (five sacks) and DB Shawun Lurry (nine interceptions).

Another NIU player to watch: wide receiver Kenny Golladay averages 15.8 yards per catch. He has 1,122 receiving yards and 10 TDs.

Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey was promoted into the job at the end of the 2012 regular season. His head coaching debut was in the Orange Bowl loss to Florida State. He is 31-11 in his career.

The Huskies have played in the MAC championship game for six straight years. They are 65-18 (78.3 winning percentage) since the beginning of the 2010 season. Only Alabama (70), Oregon (69) and Florida State (68) have more wins in that time. Boise State has 63 (and 15 losses, for an 80.8 winning percentage).

Meanwhile, Utah State (6-6) will face Akron (7-5) of the MAC in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 22 at Albertsons Stadium (1:30 p.m.).

Also, the Mountain West was forced to place Colorado State and Nevada in the Arizona Bowl. Commissioner Craig Thompson isn’t happy about it.

Bowl matchups:

New Year’s Six (final)

Cotton, semifinal (Dec. 31, Arlington, Texas): No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Alabama

Orange, semifinal (Dec. 31, Miami Gardens, Fla.): No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Oklahoma

Rose (Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif.): Stanford (Pac-12) vs. Iowa (Big Ten)

Sugar (Jan. 1, New Orleans): Oklahoma State (Big 12) vs. Mississippi (SEC)

Peach (Dec. 31, Atlanta): Houston (Group of Five) vs. Florida State (at-large)

Fiesta (Jan. 1, Glendale, Ariz.): Notre Dame (at-large) vs. Ohio State (at-large)

Mountain West bowls (final)

Las Vegas (Dec. 19, Las Vegas): BYU (MW/BYU) vs. Utah (Pac-12)

Cactus (Jan. 2, Phoenix): West Virginia (Big 12/MW) vs. Arizona State (Pac-12/MW)

Armed Forces (Dec. 29, Fort Worth, Texas): Air Force (MW) vs. California (Big Ten/at-large)

Hawaii (Dec. 24, Honolulu): San Diego State (MW/BYU) vs. Cincinnati (AAC)

Famous Idaho Potato (Dec. 22, Boise): Utah State (MW) vs. Akron(MAC)

New Mexico (Dec. 19, Albuquerque): New Mexico (MW) vs. Arizona (C-USA/at-large)

Poinsettia (Dec. 23, San Diego): Boise State (MW) vs. Northern Illinois (MAC)

Arizona (Dec. 29, Tucson, Ariz.): Colorado State (MW) vs. Nevada (C-USA/at-large)

Cure (Dec. 19, Orlando, Fla.): San Jose State (AAC/at-large) vs. Georgia State (Sun Belt)

The Broncos’ bowl history (10-5 record):

2014: Boise State 38, Arizona 30 (Fiesta)

2013: Oregon State 38, Boise State 23 (Hawaii)

2012: Boise State 28, Washington 26 (MAACO)

2011: Boise State 56, Arizona State 24 (MAACO)

2010: Boise State 26, Utah 3 (MAACO)

2010 (January): Boise State 17, TCU 10 (Fiesta)

2008: TCU 17, Boise State 16 (Poinsettia)

2007: East Carolina 41, Boise State 38 (Hawaii)

2007 (January): Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42, OT (Fiesta)

2005: Boston College 27, Boise State 21 (MPC Computers)

2004: Louisville 44, Boise State 40 (Liberty)

2003: Boise State 34, TCU 31 (Fort Worth)

2002: Boise State 34, Iowa State 16 (Humanitarian)

2000: Boise State 38, UTEP 23 (Humanitarian)

1999: Boise State 34, Louisville 31 (Humanitarian)