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NIU raises Orange Bowl banner before spring game

Players receive bowl rings, look to 2013 season

DeKALB – In Huskie Stadium's south end zone, the 1983 and 2011 Mid-American Conference championship banners rest on a flag pole.

The flag honoring the 1963 College Division champion team sits south of the west stands.

Those banners, and those teams, certainly hold a lot of meaning to the history of Northern Illinois football. Quarterback George Bork led the 1963 team to an undefeated season. The 1983 squad was NIU's first MAC champion and also earned a victory in the school's first major bowl game. Who can forget the Huskies' comeback win over Ohio to win the 2011 MAC title?

In the future, it will probably be easier for fans to draw their eyes to the 2013 Orange Bowl banner, which was unveiled prior to Saturday's spring game.

The banner features the Orange Bowl logo and sits on a flag pole next to the Yordon Center.

"It was great seeing that thing go up today," NIU offensive tackle Ryan Brown said. "It just shows our hard work from last season and shows us where we want to be again, to get back there."

NIU's 2012 season is in the past and the players are obviously focused on going into next season. Quarterback Jordan Lynch said he used the 24-hour rule after the Orange Bowl and moved on.

To anyone who enters Huskie Stadium, the banner is still one reminder of what could be considered NIU's greatest team of all time. There's no reason why the school wouldn't put up a 2012 MAC title banner as well.

"I think [the banner] definitely brings back the season from last year and the experience we had," Lynch said. "It's definitely great to have up there."

The players also received their Orange Bowl rings on Wednesday, and some members of the 2012 senior class, including Sean Progar, Nabal Jefferson, Tyrone Clark, Demetrius Stone and Jason Schepler, were presented with their rings prior to the spring game.

Brown had no problem putting his ring on when he received it earlier this week.

"I wore it around a little bit," he said. "It's pretty flashy."

To NIU head coach Rod Carey, there's just one thing wrong with the rings. They don't list the Huskies as the winner of the BCS bowl game.

That's the next step for NIU.

"Of course, they're awesome. They've got the big orange right in the middle," Carey said. "I'd like them a lot better if it said champion on them. But they don't, so we'll take them and we'll work towards the next one."

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