CHICAGO – The postseason is set in college football and there will be two FBS teams of local interest who will find their way to warmer destinations in December and January.
To be fair, the first may have hoped to be heading toward another chance to play for a national championship, but the fates didn’t quite work in their favor.
Notre Dame ended up finishing fifth in the final College Football Playoff poll and instead accepted a bid to the Fiesta Bowl to face ninth-ranked Oklahoma State on New Year’s Day at Noon at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Just because they won’t play for a national championship doesn’t mean there isn’t something for new head coach Marcus Freeman to prove when the team heads to Arizona.
The Fighting Irish will be looking to win a major bowl for the first time since the 1994 Cotton Bowl, when they beat Texas A & M 24-21 and finished second in the rankings. Since then, Notre Dame has yet to win a major bowl or a playoff game as the drought was extended to 17 years after a loss to Alabama in the Rose Bowl/Playoff Semifinal.
Included in that stretch are four-straight losses in the Fiesta Bowl, with the most recent coming on January 1, 2016 to Ohio State 44-28. Their last win in that bowl game was the one to clinch their last national championship on January 2, 1989 when they defeated West Virginia 34-21.
After an incredible turnaround in 2021 where they went from no victories to nine and a Mid-American Conference championship, Northern Illinois is headed back to a bowl game for the first time since 2018.
They’ll be in the Cure Bowl at Exploria Stadium in Orlando where they’ll face Coastal Carolina on Friday, December 17th at 5 PM CST. This will be the 14th bowl game in program history with the Huskies looking to snap a six-game bowl losing streak.
Their last victory came in the GoDaddy.com Bowl on January 8, 2012 when they defeated Arkansas State 38-20. Currently, NIU is 4-9 in their previous 13 appearances in a bowl game.
Thomas Hammock’s team will look to keep their momentum from the MAC Championship game going after they decisively beat Kent State 41-23 at Ford Field in Detroit after previously losing to the Golden Flashes in November.