SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The teams in the ninth annual Poinsettia Bowl are scheduled to arrive in San Diego this afternoon.
Northern Illinois will stay at the Marriott Marquis & Marina in downtown San Diego prior to Thursday's game. Their opponents, Utah State, will be lodged at the Sheraton Hotel on Harbor Island.
The Poinsettia Bowl gets the second selection of bowl-eligible teams from the Mountain West Conference behind the Las Vegas Bowl. Utah State (8-5) won the conference's Mountain Division, then lost to Fresno State, 24-17, in the conference's championship game Dec. 7.
The Poinsettia Bowl reached an agreement with Army to play in the 2013 game if it was bowl eligible. The game reached an agreement with the Mid-American Conference in the summer of 2012 to supply a team if the Black Knights did not win at least six games to become bowl eligible. Army was 3-9 in the 2013 season.
Northern Illinois (12-1) saw its hopes of playing in a Bowl Championship Series bowl for the second consecutive season end Dec. 6 when it was upset by Bowling Green, 47-27, in the Mid-American Conference Championship Game.
The players and coaches are scheduled to take part in a luncheon Monday aboard the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum and, later in the week, visit the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego.
Kickoff for Thursday's game at Qualcomm Stadium is set for 6:30 p.m.