It’s been an historic season for the Northern Illinois University football team. The Huskies are Orange Bowl bound on New Year’s Day for the first BCS bowl appearance in school and MAC conference history. And in DeKalb, Illinois, that means there’s only one thing on people’s minds.
“To make it to the Orange Bowl and to see NIU on ESPN, it was very exciting, you know,” said NIU senior Christopher Pitts.
On campus, students are celebrating — and hoping to prove the critics wrong.
“Of course we deserve to be here. It’s not our fault, we just won the games, we followed the BCS rules. There’s nothing we did that we don’t deserve a spot,” said student Kristen Andrews.
“We did what we had to do, and other teams didn’t get it done,” added freshman Ian Andrews.
“I know Florida State is actually a good team, a real good team, but I just want to prove ESPN wrong,” echoed Pitts.
At the Village Commons Bookstore, things can only be described as “crazy.” The phone hasn’t stopped ringing, as fans from all over the country look for Orange Bowl merchandise. General Manager Jody Boardman grew up in DeKalb, and she’s never seen anything like this.
“We’re excited for the team, we’re excited for the school, we’re just very excited. We’re all fans here, so we’re all watching TV, and it’s just an exciting time,” Boardman said.
Adding to the excitement is the fact that the University is offering a free ticket to any student who can make it to Miami. Stacks of reservations show just how many students hope to make the trip.
And it’s bringing the school together.
“I think that the Orange Bowl came up at the right time. At NIU, we’ve been facing scandals, killings, everything like that, so it’s going to bring a positive light to the university,” said Pitts.
Students like Andrews are hoping it will bring a victory on the field as well.
“It’s like a Cinderella story.”