ORLANDO, FL – ESPN Events and the Orlando Sports Foundation (OSF) announced on Sunday that the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers and Northern Illinois Huskies will play in the 2021 Tailgreeter Cure Bowl at Exploria Stadium. Kickoff for the seventh-annual contest is set for Friday, Dec. 17, at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
“On behalf of the Orlando Sports Foundation, we are honored to welcome Coastal Carolina and Northern Illinois to the Tailgreeter Cure Bowl,” said Alan Gooch, Orlando Sports Foundation CEO and Tailgreeter Cure Bowl Executive Director. “Gameday is going to be special as college football fans, cancer survivors and supporters, both team’s bands and the Orlando Community come together at Church Street Station for the March 2 Cure before heading to Exploria Stadium to watch the Chanticleers compete against the Huskies.”
Coastal Carolina (10-2, 6-2 Sun Belt) is making its second bowl appearance, while Northern Illinois (9-4, 6-2 Mid-American) is heading to its 14th bowl game. The Chanticleers made their bowl debut at the 2020 FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl. The MAC Champion Huskies are making their fourth trip to the Sunshine State, which includes appearances in the 2012 Orange Bowl, 2014 and 2018 Boca Raton Bowl.
This is the first time the two programs are meeting on the football field.
“The Tailgreeter Cure Bowl’s mission has always been about bringing teams together to find a cure for cancer,” said Jim Warmus, Orlando Sports Foundation President. “Coastal Carolina and Northern Illinois will carry on our tradition of raising awareness for cancer research.”
The Tailgreeter Cure Bowl, one of the 17 college football bowl games owned and operated by ESPN Events, is one of many fundraising events hosted by the Orlando Sports Foundation that supports the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) and other cancer organizations. Over $3.88 million has been raised since 2015. Local Orlando researcher Dr. Annette Khaled at the UCF College of Medicine has been vetted by BCRF and received $1.2 million from the funds donated.
Tickets start at $35 and are currently on sale at CureBowl.com.
The March 2 Cure is a pregame block party starting at 2 p.m. at Church Street Station. The event will be highlighted by a cancer tribute march featuring the team bands, dignitaries, cancer survivors, cancer supporters and the Orlando community walking together in a cloud of pink smoke to Exploria Stadium.
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (10-2, 6-2 Sun Belt)
- The Chanticleers are making their second-straight appearance in the Tailgreeter Cure Bowl. They made their postseason debut last season in a Top 25 matchup vs. Liberty.
- After going 12-0 in the regular season last year, Coastal Carolina opened the season with seven-straight wins, climbing to No. 14 in the polls following victories over The Citadel, Kansas, Buffalo, UMass, ULM and Arkansas State. CCU’s two loses came by a combined five points at Appalachian State (30-27) and vs. Georgia State (42-40).
- Sun Belt victories for the Chanticleers were also notched against Troy, Georgia Southern, Texas State and South Alabama.
- The prolific Coastal Carolina offense leads the nation in team passing efficiency (190.63) and third down conversion pct. (.541). It ranks inside the Top 10 in completion pct. (4th/.702), rushing offense (6th/231) and total offense (7th/493.1).
- Quarterback Grayson McCall was selected as the Sun Belt Player of the Year for the second-straight season after totaling 2,558 yards through the air and 23 touchdowns. His favorite target has been Jaivon Heiligh, who has 1,034 yards and seven touchdowns, while Isaiah Likely has complied 816 yards and 10 touchdowns.
- On the ground, Coastal Carolina is led by Shermani Jones with 988 yards and 13 touchdowns.
- The defense is paced by Silas Kelly with 96 tackles, while Josaiah Stewart has tallied 12.5 sacks.
- Head coach Jamey Chadwell is in his fourth season guiding the Chanticleers, who made the move to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2016.
“We are excited for the opportunity to play in the Cure Bowl. This game and the venue in Orlando will offer our student-athletes a top-flight bowl experience, which everyone is looking forward to this season after the challenges of 2020. We appreciate Executive Director Alan Gooch, ESPN Events, the Orlando Sports Foundation, and the entire Cure Bowl organization for the chance to showcase our program on the opening night of bowl season.”
– Coastal Carolina Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics and University Recreation Matt Hogue
“We are excited to be returning to the Tailgreeter Cure Bowl this season, the same place we made history last year with our program’s first-ever postseason bowl appearance. Our team is excited to represent our conference once again on a national level, and to play on the field together as a team one more time this season. Other than the outcome, we enjoyed our time in Orlando at the Cure Bowl last year. And this year, I’m so excited that our players, coaches, and staff will get the opportunity to experience the full bowl experience after not getting the chance last year due to COVID-19. We are excited, ready to get back to work, and looking forward to this next opportunity in a highly-regarded bowl that supports a great cause in the great city of Orlando.”
– Coastal Carolina Head Coach Jamey Chadwell
Northern Illinois Huskies (9-4, 6-2 Mid-American)
- The Huskies captured their sixth MAC Championship with a 41-23 victory over Kent State on Saturday in Detroit, Michigan.
- NIU will make its 19th appearance all-time in a postseason bowl, and its 14th appearance as a FBS team. The Cure Bowl appearance will be NIU’s 11th bowl game in the last 14 seasons.
- NIU completed a “worst to first” regular season in 2021 with an eight-game improvement in the win column, tied for the second-best improvement in FBS.
- The Huskies won seven games by one score or less, four by two points or less and another in overtime in 2021, including a 22-21 win over Georgia Tech to open the season.
- After going 0-6 a year ago, NIU’s turnaround has come with the second-youngest roster in FBS with 75 players who finished high school in 2020 or 2021.
- The Huskies are ranked fifth nationally in rushing offense (234.2), ninth in red zone offense (.920) and 10th in time of possession (33:03).
- Quarterback Rocky Lombardi has thrown for more than 2,400 yards and 13 touchdown passes, while freshman Jay Ducker has rushed for 1,038 yards, while Clint Ratkovich leads the Huskies with 14 touchdowns .
- The defense is led by freshman C.J. Brown with 105 tackles, while senior Lance Deveaux’ eight tackles for loss lead the team.
- NIU head coach Thomas Hammock is in his third season guiding his alma mater. He was a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American and rushed for over 1,000 yards for the Huskies in 2000 and 2001.
“We are excited about the opportunity to play in the Tailgreeter Cure Bowl. The exposure, the, experience and the ability to put NIU on a national stage is tremendous for our university, tremendous for our team and tremendous for our program. Coastal Carolina is certainly a very quality opponent and I expect a great atmosphere and a competitive game between two very good football teams. We look forward to having a chance to play our best football.
“Anytime you can play in a bowl game that has a tie to helping improve lives and come up with a cure for cancer, it’s tremendous. With the exposure of a bowl game locally and in the areas of the two teams competing, we’re pleased to be able to contribute to this cause.”
– Northern Illinois Head Coach Thomas Hammock
About the Orlando Sports Foundation
The Orlando Sports Foundation (OSF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit membership organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness for cancer research. The OSF hosts several events throughout the year, including the Cure Bowl.
With the combined support of Central Floridians, loyal sports fans and strategic partners, the OSF is further dedicated and committed to serving the challenges of cancer awareness and elimination, invigorating the Central Florida athletic community and supporting youth organizations with standards of benevolence, integrity and moral excellence. The OSF works with our stakeholders to involve the entire community to join us in our quest to bring teams together to find a cure for cancer. Together, we can tackle this. Click here to donate
Tailgreeter is a digital marketplace headquartered in Chicago, Ill., that connects tailgate hosts with fans that prefer to join a tailgate instead of trying to set it up themselves. Tailgreeter is elevating fans’ game day experiences one parking lot at a time. With hosts in more than 100 locations around the world and tailgates ranging from football and soccer games to races and concerts, Tailgreeter affords everyone an opportunity to enjoy an affordable, hassle-free experience. Find out more at www.tailgreeter.com.
About Exploria Stadium:
Opened in March 2017, Exploria Stadium is home to Orlando City of Major League Soccer (MLS) and Orlando Pride of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). The 25,500 seat soccer-specific stadium is located in the heart of Downtown Orlando and was the first MLS stadium to open with five consecutive victories. Exploria Stadium was 100 percent privately funded at a cost of $155 million. It features a 360-degree lower bowl, North America’s first safe-standing supporters’ section – dubbed “The Wall” – and a four-sided canopy roof to keep the noise in and weather out. In Section 12, there are 49 rainbow-colored seats to memorialize the victims of the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub. The stadium also houses the Club’s Front Office. To date, the stadium has hosted a U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2018 World Cup Qualifier, the U.S. Women’s National Team in the 2018 & 2020 SheBelieves Cup, as well as the 2017 NWSL Championship, 2017 NCAA Women’s College Cup, 2018 & 2019 MLS Combines, the Florida Cup, the 2019 MLS All-Star Game and the 2019 Cure Bowl – the first non-soccer event at the venue. Find out more at www.orlandocitysc.com
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a portfolio of 35 collegiate sporting events nationwide. The roster includes five early-season college football games, 17 college bowl games, 12 college basketball events and a college softball event, which accounts for approximately 400 hours of live programming, reaches nearly 64 million viewers and attracts over 800,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in more than 10 markets across the country, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.
For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.
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