As the middle of the pack SEC teams fight for a BCS spot while simultaneously cannibalizing each other, and the front runners trying to avoid a speed bump it is easy to forget about the big picture for the BCS. While the torch for the BCS buster was dropped by Louisville, the light was not extinguished. UCF has become the popular choice for those hoping for a team outside the normal front runners to make a run and it’s easy to see why. They beat Louisville and almost held on against a great South Carolina team. Most people however forget that the American Conference inherited the BCS bid of the recently disbanded Big East Conference. So we have to look outside Orlando for our Non-AQ BCS buster.
The last time we saw Northern Illinois, the Huskies were being dispatched comfortably by Florida State in The Orange Bowl. Why should we care about the Jordan Lynch and crew, especially in a game tonight against Ball State? Well consider this. Northern Illinois is currently ranked 15th in the country and is tied for the top in the Mid-American Conference. The Huskies can book a trip to another BCS game if they climb three spots in the next three weeks. This possibility should leave Clemson, South Carolina, Auburn, Missouri, Texas A&M and Oregon shaking like leaves on the BCS tree. There is a potential that Northern Illinois doesn’t even need to climb in the BCS Rankings to make a BCS game. Texas is currently ranked 9 spots behind The Northern Illinois Jordan Lynches in the BCS and sit tied on top of the Big 12. If Texas wins that conference and stays ranked below Northern Illinois, the Huskies would also get an automatic bid.
Opposition to the non-AQ conference team will likely fire back that there is no way Northern Illinois can climb those three spots. There is also a non-BCS team, Fresno State, that is also having an undefeated season and has been rewarded by being ranked one spot above the Huskies. However, NIU’s next two opponents are Ball State, who haven’t lost in conference, and Toledo, a dangerous rival. Yes it would help NIU if Toledo had managed to beat Florida or Missouri (two teams they played tough) but the Huskies should have enough to jump Fresno State (one spot down). The next spot NIU will climb will be due to SEC cannibalization of some sort. Finally all Jordan Lynch needs is a loss by Oklahoma State or UCLA in the next few weeks and Northern Illinois will be set.
The Huskies, just like all teams with BCS hopes, still have to go out and take care of business and beat two tough in conference teams. They also have to go and win the conference championship in a very competitive non-AQ conference. Having said that, these BCS schools have to keep one eye on the rearview mirror. It may not look like it right now, but Northern Illinois is in charge of their own destiny and it starts tonight.