The opening game of the bowl season will feature the nation’s leading rusher – Northern Illinois’ Garrett Wolfe – against one of the best run defenses in TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl.

The Huskies (7-5) accepted a bid Tuesday to play the Horned Frogs (9-2) in the Dec. 19 game at San Diego.

Wolfe, who ran for 1,900 yards and 19 touchdowns, goes up against a TCU defense that ranks third nationally against the run (64.8 yards) and seventh in overall defense (259.2 yards).

“TCU is going to provide a great challenge for our team, but that’s what you’re looking for when you go to a bowl game,” Northern Illinois coach Joe Novak said.

In addition to Northern Illinois, two other Mid-American Conference teams were picked for bowls, as well as three teams from Conference USA.

Also, Florida State (6-6) is set to play UCLA (6-5) in the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco on Dec. 27. The Bruins complete their regular season Saturday against No. 2 Southern California.

From the MAC:

•Western Michigan (8-4) will play in the inaugural International Bowl in Toronto on Jan. 6 – the first bowl game outside the United States since the 1937 Bacardi Bowl in Havana. The Broncos, making their first postseason appearance since 1988, will play an undetermined team from the Big East Conference.

• Central Michigan (8-4) will play in the Motor City Bowl on Dec. 26, becoming the first team from Michigan to play in the decade-old game set for Ford Field in Detroit. The Chippewas (8-4), who play Ohio for the MAC title Thursday night, will take on a team to be determined.

From C-USA:

• Tulsa (8-4) will play Utah (7-5) of the Mountain West Conference in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 23 in Forth Worth, Texas.

• Rice (7-5) will make its first bowl appearance since 1961 when the Owls play in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 22. The likely opponent is Troy, which needs a win over winless Florida International this weekend.

• East Carolina (7-5) accepted a bid to play in the first Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., on Dec. 23. The Pirates will play a team from the Big East Conference, likely Cincinnati or South Florida.

Also, San Jose State will likely be New Mexico’s opponent in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 23.

AP-ES-11-28-06 1622EST

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