BCS National Title Game '11

BCS National Title Game '11
BCS National Championship 1/10/11 Oregon vs Auburn

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why You Can't Blame Northern Illinois

Associated Press/Carlos Osorio
The Northern Illinois Huskies out of the Mid-American Conference will be playing in their first BCS Bowl game in school history. The Huskies were selected to play in the Discover Orange Bowl against ACC Champion Florida State after hitting the 15th spot in the final regular season BCS Standings. There are a lot of analysts and fans of college football that have not accepted the fact that the Huskies are playing in this bowl game. The Huskies, who are led by one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the country Jordan Lynch, came into the final weekend with an 11-1 record and a No. 21 ranking in the BCS Standings. It seemed almost impossible that the Huskies would make a BCS Bowl game, even with a MAC Conference Championship win over #17 Kent State. The Huskies would need to defeat Kent State, leap an idle Michigan and hope Boise State, Texas, UCLA, Florida State, and Nebraska would lose. What ended up happening was that Northern Illinois won the MAC Conference Championship in double overtime, Boise State defeated Nevada, Texas lost to Kansas State, UCLA lost to Stanford, Florida State defeated Georgia Tech, and Nebraska lost to Wisconsin. Just hours before the final BCS Standings were to be released on the Bowl Game Selection Show, there were reports that Northern Illinois had hit No. 15 in the BCS Standings. Northern Illinois only needed to hit No. 16 in the BCS Standings to receive an automatic BCS Bowl bid, because the Big East and Big Ten Champions were not going to be ranked in front of them. The reports were indeed correct and the Huskies became the main topic of discussion when the bowl games were unveiled on ESPN. There was a lot of anger and confusion over the Huskies and why they did not deserve to be in the Discover Orange Bowl.

NIU Pre-game Huddle
A majority of College Football fans that were not living in the small Illinois town of DeKalb thought this was the most ridiculous thing they had ever seen. The real question was do they really belong in a BCS Bowl game over Oklahoma or Clemson? In all honesty, they probably did not deserve it. You can't hate Northern Illinois though. All Northern Illinois did was continue to win and ended up doing what they needed to do to crash the BCS. The Huskies cannot control that a few conference champions from other BCS automatic qualifying conferences finished behind them. The teams to be blamed for this problem are simply Louisville and Nebraska. Louisville and Rutgers both were upset a week before their final meeting of the season and were knocked out of the Top 25. After Louisville defeated Rutgers for the Big East title, the Cardinals were only able to make it to No. 21 in the BCS Standings. It wasn't so much having Wisconsin (8-5) winning the Big Ten Championship as it was Nebraska getting blown out and dropping from No. 12 to No. 16. The Big East Champion was already going to be the automatic qualifier to fall behind Northern Illinois. The Huskers loss gave the Huskies a very good chance of hitting the No. 16 spot in the BCS Standings.

Who to blame for Northern Illinois's BCS Birth?

                                 1. Louisville and Rutgers from a weak Big East Conference.
  2. Nebraska losing to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. 
                  3. Can also blame UCLA and Texas for not winning their season finales. 
                                 4. The BCS system.          

Northern Illinois Huskies Resumé
Record: 12-1 (8-0 MAC)

Defeated #17 Kent State 44-37 (2OT) for the MAC Championship.
Best wins: #17 Kent State (11-2), Toledo (9-3), Kansas (1-11)
Bad loss: Iowa (4-8)            
Ranking: 15th in the final regular season BCS Standings. 
Note: Have won 11 or more games in their past three seasons and currently are 
          back-to-back MAC Champions.          

What is interesting about this resumé is that Northern Illinois only defeated one ranked opponent the entire season and their best win over a BCS automatic qualifier was against a Kansas team that won just one game this entire season. Northern Illinois was winning the entire game against the Iowa Hawkeyes in a showdown at Chicago's Soldier Field, but then blew a a five-point lead with 2:15 left in the game and lost 18-17. I figured Northern Illinois had a legitimate chance coming into the season to make a splash into the BCS picture, but thought for sure they were completely eliminated after this loss. What happened this season was out of the ordinary. If you noticed teams such as Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Northwestern, and Arizona bounced back and forth between entering and dropping out of the Top 25. This gave teams from mid-major conferences with one or two losses to begin placing themselves in shape to hit the No. 16 spot in the BCS Standings. These mid-major schools hoped that the conference champion from the Big East would drop behind them. As everyone well knows, the Big East should not be an automatic qualifying conference. This season, the Big East was the main reason why mid-major schools felt they had a chance of crashing the BCS party. Northern Illinois didn't hit the Top 25 until one week before the regular season ended. Look at all of the non-BCS automatic qualifying teams that could have been in a BCS bowl game besides Northern Illinois. 

Final BCS Standings

19. Boise State       10-2
22. Utah State        10-2
24. San Jose State  10-2
25. Kent State        11-2

All of these mid-major schools had a chance to make it to a BCS Bowl game because of the inconsistency of teams from BCS automatic qualifying conferences. The MAC had an overall record of 4-3 against the Big East. This is proof of why the Big East should be placed in the pool of mid-major schools. With the loss of West Virginia to the Big 12 this season, the depth of the conference has become weaker and weaker. One positive aspect that Northern Illinois has that these other mid-major schools do not is an explosive player in quarterback Jordan Lynch. Lynch became more and more recognizable as the college football season progressed. There are pros and cons to this whole BCS situation and here they are. 


° Northern Illinois will be in their first BCS Bowl game and is led by an explosive quarterback in Jordan Lynch.

° 28th in total defense and holding opponents to 19.0 points per game. 

° Free tickets for Northern Illinois students (see con below related to this topic).

° Have nothing to lose against Florida State. 


° Dave Doreen will not be the head coach during the Discover Orange Bowl as he has accepted the head coaching position at NC State.

° Potentially being overmatched by Florida State. Have not faced a team with this much talent all season long. 

° As generous as it is giving students free tickets to the Discover Orange Bowl, the university could be in jeopardy of losing money because of their BCS Bowl bid. The ticket allotment for Northern Illinois is 17,500. Northern Illinois has averaged just 15,670 in attendance this season. With a once in a life time opportunity, hopefully Husky fans will make their way down to Miami. 

Note: UConn went to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in 2010 and lost $2,924.385. Only 2,771 of the tickets were sold of the ticket allotment of 17,500. This is what NIU is hoping to avoid. 


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