CHICAGO (CBS) — The Northern Illinois University football team and coaches were on their way to Miami on Wednesday morning, headed for their New Year’s Day matchup with Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Berner reports the Huskies had a team dinner Christmas night, before Wednesday morning’s flight from Rockford to Miami.
Six buses took the football team to Chicago Rockford International Airport early Wednesday.
The team’s Orange Bowl bid is the first bowl bid in Mid-American Conference history, but senior punter Ryan Neir was ready for the big game.
“Just excited, ready to get down there, and start going to practice, and getting used to the warm weather. So, just looking forward to it,” Neir said.
At the team’s Christmas dinner, everyone got Orange Bowl T-shirts and hoodies – and nutrition.
“It was great, we had turkey and mashed potatoes, the whole works,” he said.
Rein said all the hype has been a bit overwhelming, but not enough to deter the team from the business at hand.
“You know, we’ve won 12 straight games, and all we can do is play the game on the field and take care of our business on the field,” Rein said.
The magnitude of the event has not been missed by the school, students, staff, alumni, or fans. Travel agents have been busy booking NIU fans for their trip to the Orange Bowl.
Even the NIU mascot has handed out oranges on the university campus, as well as in the Loop, to drum up excitement.
Watch parties have been planned in DeKalb, where NIU is located, and all over Chicago.