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NIU’s bowl opportunities dwindle by 1

Published: Monday, Nov. 30, 2009 9:54 p.m. CDT

It looks like Northern Illinois might want to move Boise, Idaho down its bowl wish list.

Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl executive director Kevin McDonald said Monday that the bowl is likely to bring in 7-5 Idaho as its representative from the Western Athletic Conference and a rematch with NIU is not an ideal option.

“If we can avoid it, we will,” McDonald said. “And that’s nothing to say about NIU. If a deal with the MAC gets made down the line (for a future bowl tie-in), NIU is the type of team we would want to have.”

Because the Mountain West Conference won’t have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill its slots, it appears the Humanitarian Bowl is left to fill its other spot with an at-large team.

With the Humanitarian Bowl looking to secure a partnership of some sort with the MAC down the line, that lends itself to the bowl picking a MAC team among the at-large candidates that include 9-3 Middle Tennessee State, 7-5 NIU, 7-5 Bowling Green and 6-6 UCLA, Marshall, Notre Dame, Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette.

The bad news for the Huskies is because they played Idaho on Sept. 26 (a 34-31 NIU loss at Huskie Stadium), Bowling Green would provide a fresher matchup.

“I’ve been talking to a lot of people and, right now, I think we’re going to have Idaho,” McDonald said. “We’re looking at NIU and Bowling Green, but [we will] probably lean a little more towards Bowling Green because NIU has played Idaho.”

This pushes NIU more toward the EagleBank Bowl, the International Bowl or the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, depending on any negotiations among MAC teams and the three bowls (GMAC, Little Caesars and International) with MAC tie-ins.

Also, with 6-6 Notre Dame firing Charlie Weis on Monday, it appears less likely that the Fighting Irish would even accept a bowl bid should one be offered. That could shift matchups that either the GMAC or Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, two of the rumored places Notre Dame could end up at, had in mind.

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