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Only major bowl question: Can Northern Illinois steal a BCS bid?

December 02, 2012|By Chris Dufresne
  • Anthony Wells (91) celebrates with fans after Northern Illinois defeated the Kent State Huskies for the Mid-American Conference championship at Ford Field in Detroit.
Anthony Wells (91) celebrates with fans after Northern Illinois defeated… (Dave Reginek / Getty Images )

Aren't you going to miss the Bowl Championship Series?

(Don't email answer that).

The college football selection system for bowl games that has been ordered to the junk heap after next season might have a couple of surprises left in it.

Nebraska's blowout loss to Wisconsin in Saturday's Big Ten title game created a slight opening for Northern Illinois to snatch the last BCS bowl spot away from powerhouse Oklahoma.

Northern Illinois, the champion of the Mid-American Conference with a 12-1 record, can earn the bid if it finishes in the top 16 of the final BCS standings, which will be released at 5:30 PST Sunday.

Northern Illinois, ranked No. 21 entering the weekend, was considered an extreme long shot even after defeating Kent State in double overtime Friday night in Detroit.

However, four teams ahead of Northern Illinois in the standings -- Nebraska (12), UCLA (16), Texas (18) and Kent State (17) -- all lost. That could put the MAC champions right on the BCS bubble.

Rules stipulate a team from a "non-qualifer" conference earns a bid if it finishes in the top 16 ahead of a major conference champion. Northern Illinois is already assured of finishing ahead of the Big East representative (Louisville).

The weekend shocker was Nebraska losing by such a whopping margin (70-31) that it dropped behind Northern Illinois in the polls.

Nebraska (10-3) fell eight positions to No. 21 in Sunday's USA Today coaches' poll, while Northern Illinois moved up two spots to No. 16.

There were no major surprises at the top of polls. Notre Dame and Alabama are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the USA Today coaches' and Associated Press media polls.  Those teams will play Jan. 7 in South Florida for the BCS title.

Here's the projected BCS bowl lineup (Note: If Northern Illinois gets in, the Huskies will play Florida State in the Orange Bowl and at-large Oklahoma gets bumped out):

BCS: Notre Dame vs. Alabama

Rose: Stanford vs. Wisconsin

Fiesta: Oregon vs. Kansas State

Sugar: Florida vs. Oklahoma

Orange: Florida State vs. Louisville

ALSO:

Still smarting, UCLA is waiting for a different bowl

Roses are red: So Wisconsin and Stanford fit right in

Alabama wins SEC crown as time runs out on Georgia

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