The BCS bowls are not officially determined, but reports are surfacing that they have already been decided, and Northern Illinois has played bracket buster, so to speak, edging out several top 10 teams to face Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
Pete Thamal of Sports Illustrated is reporting the full schedule, and the BCS selection show will make it official this evening.
The BCS National Championship will be Notre Dame vs. Alabama, as expected. Rounding out the full slate of games is Wisconsin vs. Stanford in the Rose Bowl, Kansas State vs. Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl, and Florida vs. Louisville in the Sugar bowl.
Northern Illinois is easily the biggest surprise and the selection will garner much criticism from college football fans who likely believe there were several teams more deserving of a BCS bid. Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and South Carolina were all robbed of a chance to play in one of the more prestigious bowls.
Wisconsin, Stanford, Kansas State, and Louisville were all locks to play in BCS games by way of winning their respective conferences, but many believed the at-large bids would go to Oregon, Florida and one of the teams I mentioned previously.
Though the MAC has an agreement with the BCS in that if a team in their conference finishes in the top 16 in the BCS, they automatically qualify for a BCS game. NIU was ranked 21st in the previous standings, and after their overtime win over No. 17 Kent State, one must believe they will be in the top 16 when the BCS standings are released later this evening.
The teams separating NIU from a top 16 spot were UCLA, Texas, Michigan, Kent State and Boise State. UCLA lost by three to Stanford on the road in the Pac-12 championship, Texas was hammered by Kansas State, Boise State beat Nevada and Michigan was idle. I’m surprised the Kent State win is enough to jump both UCLA and Michigan, but that must be the case.
I would hope NIU isn’t coming in as an at-large without an automatic bid.
Still, it is a win for the MAC conference, though I’m not sure how much of a chance they have against Florida State. Boise State, TCU and Utah have had success as Non-AQ BCS teams in BCS bowls, which likely contributed to the fact they are all in AQ conferences now.
NIU has a chance to make a statement, and the entire country will be watching.