(MCT) — DEKALB — The Northern Illinois football team embraced the adulation from its student fan base Wednesday night during a pep rally/celebration at halftime of a basketball game between NIU and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville at the Convocation Center.
School president Dr. John Peters introduced the team as quarterback Jordan Lynch and defensive end Sean Progar addressed the crowd- the largest of the season (2,750 in a Huskies 65-54 win) because fans came to see its Mid-American Conference champion football team.
“I think we are going to take our talents to South Beach,” senior defensive end Sean Progar said as the crowd roared.
“I think it is just a great sign of respect here tonight, and that standing ovation when we were walking out…it is something that if you keep winning, stuff like that will happen,” Lynch said after the ceremony.
While some national media analysts may not want to see Northern Illinois in a BCS bowl game this season, fans have been buying up NIU merchandise in record fashion across the country.
Since Sunday’s announcement that the Huskies will face Florida State in the Jan. 1 Orange Bowl in Miami, the sales of NIU T-shirts have skyrocketed, according to Fanatics.com, an online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise.
Compared to the same period last year, NIU merchandise has seen a 274 percent growth, best among all colleges on Fanatics.com for that same period.
Wednesday night, fans were issued orange T-shirts and pom-poms to illustrate the school’s theme for the month.