For Northern Illinois, a trip to the Orange Bowl is not only an opportunity to play on one of college football's biggest stages, but also a homecoming for several of their key players. The Huskies have 11 players on their roster from Florida, including six players from the Miami area. The Orange Bowl is played at Miami's SunLife Stadium.
Here is what sophomore linebacker Jamaal Bass had to say about the unique opportunity, with his quotes coming via the Miami Herald:
"That’s huge. My whole family’s going to be at the game or watching it on TV," said Bass. "I’ve got to do my thing. I can’t be on TV, having bad games … not at home."
Bass is hardly the only Northern Illinois player who will be returning to South Florida for this game.
Other starters with Sunshine State ties include defensive lineman Ken Bishop originally of Sunrise, and seniors Victor Jacques and Demetrius Stone, who are both from Miami. Tommylee Lewis (Palm Beach Gardens) and Angelo Sebastiano (Coconut Creek) are the team's two top return men.
The Orange Bowl will kick-off at 8:30 p.m. ET on January 1.