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Senior College Football Columnist

Orange Bowl rep to NIU: We didn't even want you here

As if Northern Illinois didn't need any added motivation for its match-up against Florida State on Tuesday night in Miami, the Huskies got a little more. And it comes from an unlikely place: a rant from an Orange Bowl representative to an NIU staffer.

“You guys [NIU] don't even deserve to be here,” the Orange Bowl rep said to the NIU staffer. “We didn't even want you here.”

According to a source, the exchange took place the other night in a hospitality suite. The Orange Bowl rep had compared NIU to Duke, the source said, and the NIU rep responded by pointing out that the Huskies, who are riding a 12-game winning streak, have been to bowl games in five consecutive seasons. The conversation escalated from there, the source said.

The 12-1 Huskies' presence in the Orange Bowl has been a sore subject for many from the moment when the BCS Bowl pairings were announced in early December. ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit even called it “a joke” that the Huskies were invited to play in the Orange Bowl. One NIU player responded by heaving an orange at the TV after hearing Herbstreit's comments.

Florida State, which earlier this season did lose to an unranked NC State team, is a 14-point favorite.

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