Boise State and Northern Illinois will play in the 11th annual Poinsettia Bowl Dec. 23 at Qualcomm Stadium, organizers announced Sunday.
Northern Illinois (8-5) won the Mid-American Conference’s Western Division, but lost to Bowling Green, 34-14, in the conference’s championship game Friday, its second consecutive loss following a six-game winning streak.
Boise State (8-4) won five of its first six games, including victories over two schools from Power 5 conferences, Washington and Virginia. The Broncos were 5-3 in Mountain West Conference play, finishing in a four-way tie for second in its six-team Mountain Division.
The Poinsettia Bowl annually includes a team from the Mountain West Conference, which includes San Diego State.
The game had reached agreement with Army to play in this year’s game, but the Black Knights failed to win the necessary six games to be eligible without a waiver. The game had a backup agreement with the Mid-American Conference to provide a team if Army failed to become bowl eligible.
The matchup is the result of “a lot of dialogue with the conferences” in an attempt to get the best possible matchup, said Mark Neville, the executive director of San Diego Bowl Game Association, which operates the Poinsettia Bowl and the other bowl game played at Qualcomm Stadium, the Holiday Bowl.
Bowling Green and Toledo were also under consideration to face the Broncos, Neville said.
The Huskies and Broncos are their conferences’ two most successful football programs in recent years.
Northern Illinois has won or shared the Mid-American Conference’s Western Division championship for six consecutive years and was conference champion in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
Boise State won or shared Mountain West Conference championships in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
The game will begin at 1:30 p.m., the earliest for a San Diego bowl game, Neville said.
The early start is to accommodate the postgame fireworks show dubbed “Stadium Spectacular,” which will include “fireworks technology that has never been in North America,” Neville told City News Service.
The fireworks show was the result of brainstorming with the game’s staff, Neville said.
“We noticed that there are events, like a Padres game, that attract a lot more people when there’s a postgame fireworks show,” Neville said.
The Poinsettia Bowl is offering $20 tickets in the west end zone on the View level in what Neville described as a premium location to view the fireworks.
Under terms of the Poinsettia Bowl’s contracts with the conferences, both schools receive 3,000 tickets and retain their revenue from the sale of those tickets, Neville said.
Northern Illinois will be making its third Poinsettia Bowl appearance. The Huskies lost to Texas Christian, 37-7, in 2006 and Utah State, 21-14, in 2013.
The Broncos lost to Texas Christian, 17-16, in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl.
— City News Service