DeKALB – Seth Hild couldn’t hold back the excitement.
Once the 13-year-old, donning a matching NIU hat and red windbreaker, saw Northern Illinois ranked as the No. 15 team in the BCS standings on the TV screen at Fatty’s Pub, he jumped out of his chair and raised both hands in the air.
“The excitement is overwhelming,” Seth, a student at Plano Middle School, said. “Because the last time we’ve been to an Orange Bowl ... I don’t know.”
Seth can’t recall NIU’s last BCS bowl game because it’s never happened. The Huskies, who became the first Mid-American Conference team to earn a berth in a BCS bowl game, will take on Florida State, the champion of the Atlantic Coast Conference, on Jan. 1 at the Orange Bowl in Miami.
Many people gathered Sunday night at Fatty’s to watch ESPN’s BCS Selection Show. The possibility of a BCS berth came into play in the past couple of weeks and the drama culminated with the official announcement Sunday night.
“I follow very, very closely,” said Jordan Casey, 23, a senior at NIU. “As soon as I heard last week it was a possibility, I followed very closely.”
Reports saying NIU was going to the Orange Bowl had circulated earlier in the afternoon, but a number of people wanted to make sure and watched the official show with their fellow Huskies fans.
Hild came with his parents less than two days after watching NIU defeat Kent State, 44-37, in double overtime to win its second consecutive MAC Championship in Detroit."
“I’ve been coming to games since the early ‘80s,” said Steve Hild, 41 and Seth’s father. “I graduated from NIU in 1995, and we’ve had season tickets since 2005.”
Hild and his wife have been to NIU’s past two bowl games, but originally thought they would skip this year’s bowl game because of a planned family vacation in the spring.
But when the possibility of an Orange Bowl berth surfaced, the Hilds had to reconsider, and are now trying to plan for Seth to come and attend his first bowl game.
“That’s the official story right now,” Steve said. “Working with my in-laws trying to figure out a way for all of us to go to Miami. That’s something over the next couple days we’ll discuss.”
At NIU’s official news conference Sunday night, NIU athletic director Jeff Compher said he expected NIU fans to travel better to Miami than to any other bowl game, and Casey is another example of the many NIU fans who plan to go to the Orange Bowl.
“My brother went to the University of Florida, so I kind of know how these big bowls go, but to have your small MAC school going, it’s pretty neat,” Casey said. “I’m going, I’ll be in Miami. January 1, I’ll be there to watch NIU beat Florida State.