Much to the dismay of a team on the West Coast, there are still two non-automatic qualifiers that retain the ability to crash the BCS’ final postseason party.
On the strength of its wildly-entertaining, 48-27 win over what was a one-loss Ball State squad, Northern Illinois pushed its winning streak to 10 straight and kept its mark on the season a perfect 10-0. And, as is the case with nearly every Huskies victory, it was Jordan Lynch who served as the catalyst.
The senior quarterback accounted for 468 yards of total offense, 345 passing and 123 rushing. It was the first time this season and third time in his career he’s passed for 300-plus and rushed for 100-plus in the same game, with one of those being a 400/100 game.
Of NIU’s five offensive touchdowns, Lynch was responsible for four of them — two passing and two rushing, including one with just over a minute left that served as the icing on a cake that was topped with a pick-six cherry 50 seconds later.
All told, the Huskies scored 21 points in the last 5:49 of the game to turn a 27-all game into a blowout. The win further increased NIU’s grip on the MAC West, but it’s the national picture to which much of the national focus has shifted.
With just two games left in the regular season for both, NIU and Fresno State are still the only undefeated non-AQ teams remaining. In the most recent set of BCS rankings, the Bulldogs were at No. 14 while the Huskies were right behind at No. 15. AAC leader UCF, which will likely be the lowest-rated of the so-called Big Six conference champions that earn automatic BCS bids — and provided they don’t stumble and gift the league title to Louisville — was at No. 17.
In the BCS average of the two human polls plus the computer composite, NIU (.3505) was .0812 behind Fresno (.4317) while they were just .0094 ahead of UCF.
For a refresher as to why the Knights are important to both NIU and the other FSU, here’s how the non-AQs can turn themselves into BCS busters:
3. The champion of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, or the Sun Belt Conference (hereinafter “non-AQ group”) will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if either:
- A. Such team is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS Standings, or
- B. Such team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS Standings and its ranking in the final BCS Standings is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls.
(Writer’s note: there are provisions for two non-AQ teams to earn BCS bowl bids, although that is highly unlikely to happen in 2013. For those scenarios, click HERE.)
As far as the homestretch is concerned and how this may play out, here are the remaining regular season schedules for all three of the teams involved:
Nov. 23 vs. 3-6 New Mexico
Nov. 29 at 5-4 San Jose State
Nov. 20 at 7-3 Toledo
Nov. 26 vs. 1-9 Western Michigan
Nov. 16 at 1-8 Temple
Nov. 21 vs. 5-3 Rutgers
Nov. 29 vs. 2-6 USF
Dec. 7 at 3-5 SMU