DeKALB – Bowl representatives took advantage of Tuesday night’s matchup between two bowl-eligible teams as ambassadors from the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl and the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl, both Mid-American Conference-affiliate bowls, scouted Northern Illinois and Toledo.
“For us it’s a perfect setup,” Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl representative John Perles said before the game. “It’s a great matchup, great setting, great weather, national TV audience. This is what college football is all about.”
The Little Caesar’s Bowl has the first pick among MAC teams, and Perles said the Huskies are an attractive option.
“The way we’re looking at it now, they have a chance of being ranked,” Perles said. “If things continue to progress like they’re progressing, they very well could be a top-25 team. They’ve got some players on offense that the nation probably hasn’t seen a lot of and we can showcase in our game. Toledo’s got players too.”
Even if the Huskies win the MAC Championship, they are not guaranteed an invitation to Detroit. The Little Caesar’s Bowl could decide to invite Toledo or Ohio, programs that could draw more fans to Ford Field because of their proximity to Detroit.
“We’re a regional game to a certain extent, but we still consider Northern Illinois part of our region. We want to put the best matchup on the field because ultimately that’s going to keep television set people happy. A lot of our fan base from Detroit, as well, they want to see the best matchup. Toledo’s proximity is a lot closer, but that’s not going to really weigh in our decision.”
More visitors: MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher also attended the game, his third NIU game of the season.
“This definitely sets the table in the West (division),” Steinbrecher said. “Whoever wins this is definitely in the driver’s seat.”
NFL scouts from the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns also watched the game from the press box.
Huskie legend honored: Garrett Wolfe made his way to DeKalb for Tuesday’s primetime matchup with the Toledo Rockets.
Entering his fourth season with the Chicago Bears, the former Huskies star running back – who rushed for 5,136 yards and 52 touchdowns at NIU – was honored on the field between the first and second quarters as a “Huskie Legend.”
“I take a lot of pride in how well NIU do, especially beating a team like Toledo because Toledo symbolizes so much of what the MAC West is,” Wolfe said. “It’s always Toledo that wins. That was the saying, ‘The road through the MAC West goes through Toledo.’ That same holds true right now.”
No T.O. show: Toledo redshirt freshman quarterback Terrance Owens, nicknamed T.O., would do well to forget his first start.
Nine days after throwing for four touchdowns in relief of injured starter Austin Dantin during a 42-7 win over Eastern Michigan, Owens completed 18 of 38 passes against NIU.
He finished with 186 yards, threw two touchdowns and one interception.