Turner, Schiller Ecstatic About NIU’s Orange Bowl Bid

Turner, Schiller Ecstatic About NIU’s Orange Bowl Bid

Jay Adams

Published December 4, 2012 at 3:50 PM


Michael Turner, left, is taking every opportunity to talk trash with his NIU Huskies Orange-Bowl-bound

This time of year, running back Michael Turner usually doesn’t have a whole lot to talk about when it comes to his alma mater. Instead of voicing his confidence in his own team, he listens to the Alabama or LSU alums around his locker discuss their teams.

This year is much different, with his alma mater of Northern Illinois receiving an Orange Bowl berth Sunday night, and Turner took every opportunity to let his voice be heard in the locker room after Tuesday’s practice.

“I can’t put it into words, man. It’s unbelievable that my school is in the Orange Bowl,” said Turner with his trademark smile. “I just wish them luck, and I get to talk trash for the next month in the locker room.”

From there, Turner’s excitement grew as rookie practice squad linebacker and fellow NIU alum Pat Schiller came over and handed Turner an orange. Turner said he was looking for Antone Smith — a Florida State product (NIU will face the Seminoles in the Orange Bowl) — but instead threw the orange at the locker of Chris Hope, yet another Florida State alum.

Pat SchillerDonning an NIU visor, once again provided by Schiller, the pride on Turner’s face was apparent. Schiller, one year removed from the NIU football program, was also overwhelmed with excitement, especially since he knows all the players on that roster.

“I was on the phone with all the guys, just telling them that they can win this game, but they’ve gotta bring it,” Schiller said. “I was talking with the coaches. I really keep in touch with all the staff and management. I was on the phone with all of those guys, even during the game when they played the MAC championship.”

The Huskies’ appearance in the Orange Bowl marks the second time since 2010 that the BCS will feature a team from a non-automatically qualifying league. TCU beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl that year.

NIU is coming off its most successful season in school history. The Huskies beat Kent State 44-37 in double overtime last week, which earned the school its second MAC championship in a row.

Needless to say, it’s a huge year for the Huskies — both current and past.

The magnitude of it means that Schiller and Turner will try to make it to the Jan. 2 game in Miami, if their schedule with the Falcons permits it. Both know that their priorities in Atlanta come first, but with the Falcons on track to earn a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs, the two former Huskies might have the extra time to catch the biggest game in their school’s history.

If not, they’ll settle in somewhere in Atlanta and make a big deal out of it.

“Party at Mike’s,” Schiller said. “Everybody’s invited.”

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