QUAPAW — Even without having ever played a game, the Midwest Classic has been a hot commodity among NJCAA bowl-eligible teams.
“At one time there were six different schools contacting us, trying to get into this game,” said game director Amanda Davis. “Outside of the national championship, I am not embarrassed at all to say this was the most sought after bowl game in the nation. We were just so fortunate to get both teams to accept that bid on Monday.”
The bowl selection committee opted Monday to pair fourth-ranked Northeastern Oklahoma A&M against No. 7 Independence (Kansas) Community College in the game, which will be played Sunday, Dec. 3 at the Miami Multi-Purpose Sports Complex at Red Robertson Field.
The NJCAA made the official announcement Tuesday, Nov. 14, and the teams were introduced during a press conference Wednesday, Nov. 15 at Downstream Casino Resort.
Downstream Resort is the event’s title sponsor.
“Both teams were on the radar very early,” said Davis, who is Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau executive director and Director of Tourism for the City of Miami. “These were the two teams the committee wanted.”
Other than the Mississippi Bowl in Perkinston, Mississippi, which will decide the national championship, the Midwest Classic Bowl features two of the highest ranked teams in the nine games sanctioned by the NJCAA.
“We’ve been four out of the last five games on the road, so our kids are ready to stay home and enjoy the beautiful weather in Miami,” Norse head coach Clay Patterson said.
Tongue firmly in cheek, Patterson told the Indy players on hand for the press conference “you guys are blessed… you get to play a bowl game in Miami.”
This is NEO’s first bowl game since 2012, when the Norse went to the Citizens Bank Bowl Pittsburg, Kansas.
This will be the first time the schools have played since 1988, when NEO rolled to a 36-15 victory at Independence.
The Norse hold an 11-2-1 advantage in the series.
“I am honored to take Independence to our first game goal in however many years,” Independence head coach Jason Brown said. “I am really excited. It allows more recruitment opportunities. I couldn’t be more honored and blessed for that.
“NEO is a great historical program, had a great year and the coaches have done a great job in the short time there. It will be a very interesting matchup to say the least.”
Teams at a glance
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College
President: Dr. Jeff Hale
Athletic Director: Dale Patterson
Head football coach: Clay Patterson
School colors: Blue and gold
Mascot: Golden Norsemen
Conference: Southwest Junior College Football Conference
Conference record: 5-2 (first)
NJCAA ranking: fourth
Conference titles: 1998, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2017
National titles: 1958, 1959, 1963, 1967, 1969, 1986, 1991
Independence (Kan.) Community College
President: Dr. Daniel Barwick
Athletic Director: Tammy Geldenhuys
Head football coach: Jason Brown
School colors: Navy and gold
Conference: Kansas Community College Football Conference
Conference record: 6-1 (first)
NJCAA ranking: seventh
Conference titles: 1932, 1936, 1937, 1977, 2017
National titles: none