DeKALB — The Huskies didn’t make it to Detroit this season for the Mid-American Conference Championship Game, but they’re still destined for the Motor City.
After missing out last year, Northern Illinois (8-4, 6-2 Mid-American Conference) is headed back to a Bowl Game.
The Huskies have accepted a bowl invitation and will face Duke (6-6, 3-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) in the Quick Lane Bowl on Tuesday Dec. 26 at Ford Field in Detroit, the team announced Sunday afternoon.
“I don’t know if we’re really fired up about Detroit, but I think we’ve got a fine opponent in Duke,” NIU coach Rod Carey said. “I’m sure the people in Detroit will be great. Everyone likes to go somewhere for a bowl game, right? We’ll make it fun and go up north.”
The Blue Devils finished tied for fourth place in ACC Coastal standings. Duke started the season 4-0, but lost six-straight games before recovering with victories over Georgia Tech and Wake Forest to end the season. The Blue Devils’ best win of the year was a, 41-17, thumping of Northwestern.
"We are honored and delighted to be chosen to participate in the Quick Lane Bowl," Duke coach Cutcliffe said. “I could not be happier for a group of young men who had their backs against the wall heading into the final two weeks of the season, fought through that adversity and now will reap the benefits of their hard work and commitment to this program."
Duke is 4-8 all-time in Bowl Games, with their last appearance coming in the Pinstripe Bowl in 2015 when they defeated Indiana, 44-41, in overtime.
Carey said, “(Duke) is a well coached team … Coach David Cutcliffe – that’s about all I know about them.”
NIU holds a 4-7 all-time Bowl Game record and is 2-6 in the past decade. The Huskies’ last bowl win was in 2011 when they defeated Arkansas State, 38-20 in the GoDaddy.Com Bowl. NIU has lost four-straight bowl games since — 2012 Orange Bowl vs. Florida State, 2013 Poinsettia Bowl vs. Utah State, 2014 Boca Raton Bowl vs. Marshall, 2015 Poinsettia Bowl vs. Boise State.
The Huskies have plenty of familiarity with Detroit, playing in six-straight MAC Championship games at Ford Field from 2010-15.
Carey (44–23, 32–8) has yet to win a Bowl Game since taking over as NIU's head coach prior to the Orange Bowl in 2012. He owns a 0-4 Bowl Game record.
“Everyone has dreams of Bowl Games being down south and on the beach and a great opponent,” Carey said. “Well, we didn't get that, but we still got a great opponent and a bowl game. We'll attack it that way."
The Quick Lane Bowl was created in 2014 and typically pits an ACC team against a Big Ten team. The bowl has a payout of $1.2 million. The Huskies and Blue Devils have never played each other in football.
Kickoff between NIU and Duke is set for 4:15 p.m. Tuesday Dec. 26.