Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 12/3/12
Northern Illinois went 12-1 this season. The Huskies won the Mid-American Conference. They deserve to go to a bowl game. Just not a Bowl Championship Series game. The truth is that many of us college football nuts love watching MAC games. They are fun, they are high-scoring and they are unpredictable. MACtion has taken on a life of its own, especially on Twitter. And the games provide great drama on a Tuesday night. Northern Illinois, the MACs best in 2012, finished 15th in the BCS standings on Sunday. And that made the little school from a non-automatic-qualifying conference an automatic BCS team. The Huskies are going to a BCS bowl instead of a program like Oklahoma, which went 10-2, losing to Notre Dame (No. 1 in the BCS standings) and Kansas State (No. 5). Or a 10-2 Clemson team, that lost to South Carolina (No. 10) and Florida State (No. 12). This isnt a Boise State, a program that blew the doors off teams in the regular season and knocked off TCU (in 2010) and Oklahoma (in 2007) in the Fiesta Bowl. Both of those Boise State teams finished with perfect records and far better regular-season resumes. This is Northern Illinois resume: It lost to Iowa (which finished the season 4-8) 18-17 at Chicago, essentially a home game against a Big Ten school. Its most high-profile wins are at home against Kansas, a 1-11 team that it beat by just a touchdown, a 41-40 road win over Army (2-9) and a victory over Kent State in double overtime in the conference championship Friday night. The Huskies had a good season. They are a good team. But their resume isnt good enough, and its certainly not BCS-worthy. This wasnt the Orange Bowls choice. Nobody associated with the bowl would say that they hand-picked a Jan. 1 matchup of Florida State and Northern Illinois. This is the BCS rules and everyone is stuck with it. And Florida State (11-2) is stuck in the middle. Everyone associated with the program will say the right things, but nobody will admit that this isnt an ideal matchup. Nobody is really looking forward to Florida State vs. Northern Illinois. Want proof? A ticket to see Florida State and Northern Illinois can be had on Stubhub for just 6. Thats less than it costs for lunch. Or to go to a movie. Or to buy two gallons of gas. Nobody will argue that the price should be higher. But wouldnt you expect to fork over more than 6 to see a BCS game? The cost is what the market demand is and clearly theres not that much demand. For a vacation in South Florida. In the winter. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher praised Northern Illinois, of course, but what else would he say? You don't get in this game unless you are a good football team, Fisher said. They're a great football team. Theyve earned the right to be here. Theyve earned the right to have this opportunity." Its pure coachspeak, exactly what you would expect any coach to say about an opponent. And Fisher is all about respect. Northern Illinois deserves a certain amount of respect. Quarterback Jordan Lynch has thrown for 2,962 yards, run for 1,771 yards and has accounted for 41 touchdowns. A Chicago native, he was surely passed over by a number of Big Ten schools. He and his teammates will come into this game with a chip on their shoulder, but thats the way it is in the MAC. Youre in the MAC conference, every kid in this conference plays with a chip on his shoulder because he was told by the Big Tens or the other schools that they werent good enough, Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey said. Good enough? Its a great debate. And as sports fans, we love the Cinderella story. That narrative works well for March Madness, especially in a format that invites 68 teams. But this is the BCS. So ask yourself this question: If you wrote down the names of the 10 best college football teams, even if you limit the argument to just two SEC programs, would Northern Illinois be in your top 10?
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