TCU is making a postseason appearance for the 8th time in the last 9 years. What's amazing is that the run has spanned three changes in conference affiliation, beginning with the WAC (1998-2000) and lasting through CUSA (2001-2004) and now the Mountain West (2005-present).
The Horned Frogs were co-champions of the WAC in 1999 and 2000, CUSA co-champs in 2002, and Mountain West outright champions in 2005.
Over-all, this is TCU's 23rd bowl game compared to Northern Illinois' third, not that the Huskies have had a recent history of bad football. On the contrary, NIU has put together a string of seven consecutive winning seasons, including a 10-2 mark in 2003 but without a bowl slot available to take them.
Northern Illinois boasts the nation's leading rusher, Garrett Wolfe, who averaged 158.3 yards per game during the regular season and accounted for 18 touchdowns. They were also a very disciplined club as they ranked second in the MAC for fewest penalties with just over 5 per game.
The Achilles heal of the Huskies has been a defense that ranked 9th in the MAC in yards allowed per game, but still somehow managed to allow just under 20 points per game.
For TCU, quarterback Jeff Ballard has completed 61.4 percent of his passes with 12 TD's and 5 INT's. But he was also one of three players who ran for more than 400 yards, led by Aaron Brown's 749. Brown also added 447 yards on 33 receptions.
Defensively, TCU was fifth in the nation in points allowed, 4th in total yards allowed, and 4th in rushing yards allowed. They ranked 33rd in pass defense, but when you're winning 10 of your 12 games, the opponents are often airing it out.