Humanitarian Bowl Preview: Northern Illinois, Fresno State Meet in the Cold

Humanitarian Bowl, December 18, 5:30 PM ET, ESPN

What it is: A complete repudiation of one of the original purposes of bowl games, which was to reward teams with trips to warm weather vacation spots. This one is in Boise, Idaho.

The Teams: Northern Illinois and Fresno State

How Northern Illinois got here: Principally, NIU got here by beating up on MAC teams. The Huskies went 10-3, which isn't a bad thing if you can get it, but they hardly mowed down a murderer's row. They began 1-2 with losses to Iowa State (5-7) and Illinois (6-6) before ripping off a nine-game winning streak. To their credit, they did face every MAC team that finished the season .500 or better except one during the streak. That one was Miami University, who they lost 26-21 to in the MAC Championship Game. Head coach Jerry Kill has since been hired by Minnesota, who NIU beat 34-23 in September.

How Fresno State got here: The Bulldogs basically fulfilled their stereotype this season, being a tough team to beat in about eight or nine of their games. They went 8-4 on the season, with a win over the Big East's Cincinnati and a 55-38 loss to Ole Miss. Fresno was fourth in the WAC and put a serious scare into conference champ Nevada with a 35-34 loss in Reno. The other two above them had little such trouble, with Hawaii dismissing them 49-27 in the islands and Boise State thumping them 51-0 on the very field this bowl is being played on.

College football fans care because: These were two of the better mid-major porgrams, and it's not a half bad matchup You just have to hope that NIU shows up as Kill is not coaching the game.

SEC fans care because: Pat Hill's mustache can be appreciated anywhere. After that, um, Fresno played Ole Miss this year and will again next year?

Watch this game if: You want to see a game in miserable weather or if you just enjoy seeing the Smurf Turf.

The result: Fresno State 24, NIU 20

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