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NIU football going to Miami for bowl game

NIU Coach Rod Carey (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

Northern Illinois University (NIU) will make history next week when its football team plays the Orange Bowl in Florida.

The Huskies are no strangers to bowl games - this will be their seventh in 10 years. But they will be the first team from the Mid-American Conference to compete in a Bowl Championship Series game.

Some 1,300 of their fellow students plan to head south to cheer them on.

Paul Palian is head of Media and Public Relations at Northern Illinois. He says NIU worked around the clock to arrange accommodations and transportation for the students, including finding 26 buses on short notice. But Palian says their efforts were worth it.

"The students are excited, the campus has various landmarks lit up in orange – just a great atmosphere in DeKalb right now," Palian said.

Meanwhile, Donna Turner of NIU’s Athletics Department is with the team in Miami.

She says over the next few days, players will attend charitable events and team dinners. As they approach game time, the big challenge will be the "mental preparation" required to face the Florida State Seminoles.

The Huskies are the underdogs of this match-up, so Turner hopes the traveling NIU students bring their high spirits all the way to the Sunshine State.

"You know obviously we’re playing against Florida State," Turner said. "So our fans will be pretty severely outnumbered we feel." 

The Orange Bowl takes place next Tuesday. 

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