The Northern Illinois football team has built a Boise State-like run of success that includes six straight trips to the Mid-American Conference championship game, an Orange Bowl appearance in 2012 and a championship game loss that prevented another BCS appearance in 2013.
The Huskies have the most wins of any Group of Five team since 2010 (65, .783 percentage). The Broncos have the highest winning percentage in that time (63 wins, .808 percentage).
The programs will meet for the first time Dec. 23 in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego.
"I don't think we get compared to Boise, which is a good thing," Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey said, "because no one can be Boise. ... They have really carried the banner for the Group of Five. When we can play that team, have an opportunity to compete with them and measure ourselves against them, I think that's great."
Here are 10 facts to know about the Huskies:
1. Four coaches, one motto
Novak endured a 23-game losing streak early in his tenure. He eventually produced a 10-win season in 2003 that included wins over ranked Maryland and Alabama teams.
Jerry Kill (23-16 in three seasons), Dave Doeren (23-4 in two seasons) and Carey (above, 31-11 in three seasons) built a consistent winner upon Novak's foundation.
"(The 2003 season) really showed people what this place can be," Carey said. "... The Hard Way just means no short cuts. We're going to take the long road and do it the right way. We're very Midwestern, very blue-collar people."
Said senior guard Aidan Conlon: "This is a program that was built on working hard and just being a tough-nosed kind of guy."
Some coaches might have changed the motto just to put their stamp on the program. Novak, after all, left after a 2-10 season. But the Northern Illinois coaches have embraced it.
"You think about all the slogans that are out there right now -- this is the best one in college football," Carey said. "Coaches want to take it with them more than change it when they get here."
2. The QB situation is improving
Graham injured a leg in the regular-season finale. True freshman walk-on Tommy Fiedler started the MAC championship game, a 34-14 loss to Bowling Green.
"There's a real good chance we get (Graham) back for this," Carey said. "I wish the game was a week later because I think he'd be 100 percent. I think he'll be real close to 100 percent as it is. ... We know he's a good player. We didn't think it was going to be his time yet, but it is."
3. It's the Nephew Bowl
4. Take your pick
5. The Iron Men
"I'm paying for it now," Conlon said. "My body is getting old. It's been a lot of fun. I can't complain at all. I love this place and love the guys I've been around."
6. Foot in the door
7. Heisman connection
8. No pressure
9. Going south
10. Watch your fingers
DeKalb is known as the home of barbed wire. DeKalb High's nickname: the Barbs. The student newspaper: The Barb Wire.
"We're a big university in a small community," Carey said. "Our community and this university are really bonded."