Boise State and Northern Illinois are set to meet in the Poinsettia Bowl on Wednesday. These two teams are the most recognizable in the group-of-five rank, but they are now dealing with a decent amount of disappointments.
NIU just missed out on a fourth Mac title in five years because of injuries, while the Boise State expected to 12-0 finish this season but got 8-4.
For the Broncos, this match is about fighting against an elite defensive team and an upstart quarterback. The Huskies, on another hand, can only hope they are healthy enough to field the usually stout attack.
Here is everything you need to know about the Wednesday's game:
Time and Date: Wednesday, December 23, at 4:30 p.m. ET
Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
Live Stream: WatchESPN
On Dec. 5, NIU played in its sixth consecutive MAC title game. Sports analysts said that in a league designed for parity, that is an amazing achievement. Also, it is interesting to note that Huskies have made this feat with three different head coaches.
Heading into the Wednesday game will be a little bit tricky for NIU. Before their star quarterback Drew Hare was injured, he had incredible plays for the team. He completed 73 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and no picks over a three-game span before an Achilles injury against Toledo ended his season.
The team's backup quarterback Anthony Maddie is also already out for the season due to injuries. Fortunately, Ryan Graham played well enough to preserve a victory over Toledo, giving the Huskies control of the MAC West yet again. As a reliever, Graham has 653 yards with six touchdowns to three interceptions this year.
On another hand, Boise State has set of players that can outlast NIU. Bronco's quarterback Jeremy McNichols can find holes in the Huskies' defense to score. He is also a dual-threat running back that's become increasingly popular in spread offenses. Moreover, he is the team's fourth-leading receiver. He has 64 yards, three touchdowns, 7.9 yards per catch.
"This is a loaded team [Boise State], and I can't wait to see it in action. Quarterback and running back are obvious concerns, but between the depth of candidates and the ace coaching staff," Bill Connelly of SB Nation said in an analysis.
For game predictions, Bleacher Report said as long Boise State comes out motivated to put a neat topper on a solid season, they can take an early lead against a lesser opponent. Moreover, the Broncos will roll a team that still managed to put together an impressive season despite frustrating injury woes.
Prediction: Broncos 35, Huskies 28