NIU had the next highest APR of the 5-7 teams, but the NCAA's Football Oversight Committee would have to officially approve the Huskies replacing Minnesota, if the Gophers decided not to play, sources said.
The Gophers are slated to play Washington State on Dec. 27 in San Diego.
The Huskies would "likely play" in the game if a decision could be reached in the next 48 hours, a source told ESPN. Among the challenges for NIU, a source said, would be getting its student-athletes to the San Diego bowl since NIU's commencement was last weekend and some student-athletes have already left campus. Other challenges would be having enough practices and preparation time to prepare for Washington State.
Sources said moving the Holiday Bowl back a few days to allow NIU more preparation time is not an option for several reasons, including existing travel plans by Washington State, local accommodation and television commitments, and other factors.