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NIU wins second straight MAC title, but could knock league out of BCS

MAC Championship - Kent State v Northern Illinois Getty Images

(Note: rankings in this post reflect positions in the BCS) 

The non-automatic qualifier conferences had, in all likelihood, one final hope to get a team into the BCS top 16 for an Orange Bowl berth. That hope came in the form of No. 17 Kent State. The Golden Flashes needed to beat Northern Illinois this evening and have No. 16 UCLA lose to Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game to have a shot of cracking the top 16 (since the winner of the Big East, Louisville, will likely not finish ahead of the MAC champion in the Sunday’s final BCS standings).

It took all of regulation and two overtime possessions, but Kent State couldn’t quite get it done and No. 21 NIU came away with a 44-37 win. The Huskies were led by quarterback and possible Heisman candidate Jordan Lynch, who accounted for 372 yards and four touchdowns.

Lynch has been on the outside of the Heisman conversation over the past few weeks, but could sneak an invite to New York after his performance tonight — which could have been undone by one play, by the way. A fumbled handoff late in the fourth quarter was scooped up by KSU and returned for a touchdown to tie the game at 27. A pair of touchdowns in the final four minutes sent the game into overtime. That’s when Lynch’s 2-yard touchdown run in the second overtime gave NIU a 44-37 lead that was never relinquished.

So now, NIU brings home the MAC championship for the second year in a row, but the Huskies may have taken the non-AQs out of the BCS picture. UCLA lost to Stanford in the Pac-12 championship while No. 18 Texas and No. 19 Boise State play Kansas State and Nevada this weekend, respectively. Even assuming that Texas and Boise State lose, idle Michigan still sits two spots above NIU at No. 19 in the BCS.

The point is that NIU still needs a lot of help to even be in the discussion for the No. 16 spot, as does Boise State if the Broncos can beat the Wolf Pack. We’ll have to wait and see for sure when the BCS standings are revealed Sunday, but it looks as though a team from the Big 12 — either Kansas State or Oklahoma — will grab the final at-large BCS spot.

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8 Responses to “NIU wins second straight MAC title, but could knock league out of BCS”
  1. wustlumdnj says: Nov 30, 2012 11:46 PM

    Because the comments about the potential competitiveness of an NIU against a Florida are surely coming, I want to say – don’t blame NIU for its success and coming however close to #16 it will get – blame the system for being set up the way it is (if you think there’s an issue with it), blame other top talent teams like USC for crapping out and allowing a “lesser talent team” like NIU to be highly ranked after an incredibly successful season, and lastly, dare I say blame the Oklahomas of the world for being on the BCS “bubble” – if they won/win the games on their schedule it doesn’t come down to them vs BCS buster – they have a conference auto-bid.

  2. dmcgrann says: Nov 30, 2012 11:52 PM

    I enjoyed the game immensely, though I sorta wanted the Golden Flashes to win. It was a good game to watch, and I might have to arrange my schedule for more MACtion.

  3. houndofthebaskervols says: Dec 1, 2012 12:00 AM

    What a game. This is why I love the MAC, no first round picks, just good hard nosed football, and the teams are unusually well coached.

    Congratulations to Dave Doeren, I’d like to see him in Knoxville but I dont think he’s leaving NIU.

  4. scalpemseminoles says: Dec 1, 2012 12:01 AM

    Watching this game, I have no idea how the golden flashes kept it close. I was hoping to see a mac bcs buster but it may or may not happen. Regardless, it’s been a great year for the MAC

  5. cubano76 says: Dec 1, 2012 12:13 AM

    Hey UConn, MAC’s lookin pretty good these days huh? ;)

  6. niubears says: Dec 1, 2012 12:47 AM

    JORDAN LYNCH IS A MAN!!!!!!!!

    NIU completed dominated up until that 96-yd drive by Kent State.
    Would love the Orange Bowl, but I know the chance is at 0.0000001%.
    Hopefully the Huskies get a better bowl game than the MAC tie-ins with a good opponent. But that’s probably slim too. Ugh.
    Doeren stays next year, NIU busts the BCS in 2013 and Doeren will then be able to get any job opening he wants.

    BACK TO BACK! Love me some MACtion!

  7. frug says: Dec 1, 2012 12:57 AM

    Biggest game in the conference’s history and was a doozy. Longshot that NIU makes the Orange Bowl but stranger things have happened.

  8. raysfan1 says: Dec 1, 2012 1:45 AM

    If OU wins and K State tanks against Texas, Clemson could take the final BCS berth.

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