Poinsettia Bowl teams arrive in San Diego

Posted at 1:57 PM, Dec 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-19 16:57:49-05

The Northern Illinois and Boise State football teams are scheduled to arrive in San Diego Saturday to begin four days of preparation and activities leading up to Wednesday's 11th annual Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium.

Northern Illinois will stay at the Sheraton Hotel and Marina on Harbor Island and practice at Mesa College in Clairemont.

Boise State will stay at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront and practice at Southwestern College in Chula Vista.

The teams will make separate visits to the San Diego Zoo on Sunday and to SeaWorld on Monday, and make a joint visit to the USS Midway Museum on Tuesday for the annual team luncheon.

The Gaslamp March will be held Monday, with marching bands and spirit squads from both universities parading from each end of Fifth Avenue performing holiday favorites, and meeting at Market Street for a "Battle of the Bands."

The Huskies "will certainly be happy" to be in San Diego, "even though we have had a mild winter back in the Midwest," Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey said in a news conference Wednesday at the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina.

The Broncos "couldn't be more excited to be here," Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said.

The Huskies (8-5) won the Mid-American Conference's Western Division, but lost to Bowling Green, 34-14, in the conference's championship game Dec. 4, their second consecutive loss following a six-game winning streak.

"We expect a physical game," Carey said. "Both teams like to run the ball, both teams are dynamic on offense and very good on defense."

The Broncos (8-4) won five of their first six games, including victories over two schools from Power 5 conferences, Washington and Virginia. Boise State was 5-3 in Mountain West Conference play, finishing in a four-way tie for second in its six-team Mountain Division.

"We haven't quite had the season in some ways that we have had in the past, but we are excited about where we are now," Harsin said.

The Broncos and Northern Illinois are their conferences' two most successful football programs in recent years.

Boise State won or shared Mountain West Conference championships in 2011, 2012 and 2014. The Broncos won the Fiesta Bowl, part of what are now know as "New Year's Six" bowls, following the 2006, 2009 and 2014 regular seasons.

The Huskies have won or shared the Mid-American Conference's Western Division championship for six consecutive years and were conference champions in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

Northern Illinois' lone "New Year's Six" appearance was in the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day in 2013, losing to Florida State, 31-10.

The Poinsettia Bowl annually includes a team from the Mountain West Conference, which includes San Diego State.

Officials had reached an agreement with Army to play in this year's game, but the Black Knights failed to win the necessary six games to be eligible. 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.