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Bowling Green ruins NIU’s BCS plans, wins MAC

Duane Burleson/Getty Images Getty Images

In the final year of the BCS system, there will be no BCS buster. No. 14 Northern Illinois (12-1, 8-1 MAC) was dealt their first loss of the season at the worst possible time of the year. Bowling Green (10-3, 8-1 MAC) delivered the blow with a 47-27 victory in the MAC Championship Game.

Bowling Green’s strategy seemed so simple in concept, but few teams manage to get the mission to play out. Forcing Northern Illinois in to a position to rely more n the pass than allowing the Huskies to grind out yardage on the ground paid off, and the Falcons delivered a near flawless performance on both sides of the football.

While Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch is a bit of a household name at this point, this night belonged to Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson. Johnson was precise with his passes, completing 21 of 27 of them for 393 yards and five touchdowns. Receivers Ronnie Moore and Alex Bayer each had over 100 receiving yards. As solid of a performance as this was for the offense — and it was top-notch — the defense is what really took control of this game.

Bowling Green held Lynch to just 89 rushing yards and allowed him to complete just 21 of 40 pass attempts for 219 yards and one touchdown. The brilliance of the defensive game plan was focusing on what Lynch would do when they managed to force him to throw. That has far easier to say than do, as most opponents might tell you. Lynch had thrown just five interceptions all season heading in to the championship game, but Bowling Green managed to pick off the MAC’s top offensive player twice. But it paid off as it took Northern Illinois out of their element. With the offense continuing to pad their lead, Northern Illinois struggled to make much of a dent. What this does for Lynch’s chances to receive a trip to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist remains to be seen, although he may still be worthy of an invite for an award that appears to be Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston‘s.

The outcome of this game removes Northern Illinois from the BCS conversation. A win would have likely resulted in a second straight BCS trip if they managed to stay ahead of UCF in the BCS standings. UCF plays Saturday at SMU, but even if the Knights were to win the Huskies likely would have stayed in front to clinch an automatic BCS spot. Instead there will be no BCS busters, which means the door is open for a number of teams from some of the traditional power conferences. Baylor, Oregon and Clemson are among the programs who should be most happy with this result.

Bowling Green will likely move on to play in the Bowl against a team from the Sun Belt Conference. Northern Illinois will likely make a return trip to Detroit for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, against a Big Ten team. Northern Illinois was 2-0 against Big Ten competition this season, with wins against Iowa and Purdue. Those are the two top bowls in the MAC line-up, although those bowl announcements have yet to be made official.

One question to ask now is whether Bowling Green head coach Dave Clawson will be around to coach the Falcons in their bowl game. Clawson was already a rising name in this year’s coaching carousel, and with this dominating performance by his team tonight, he could certainly be in line for a new job in a hurry.

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25 Responses to “Bowling Green ruins NIU’s BCS plans, wins MAC”
  1. dmcgrann says: Dec 6, 2013 11:57 PM

    Dave Clawson is a good coach and good man. We were sorry he left us at Richmond, but understood the circumstances. He was kind enough to leave us with a National Championship team.

    I was disappointed in ESPN’s coverage of tonight’s game, especially the part about how the rest of the MAC was rooting for NIU because a NIU victory and BCS appearance meant $8 million for the conference and a BGSU win would not. If that’s the way it’s going to be, to hell with it. Sorry if UMass, Miami, and WMU got bent being deprived of a larger than normal payday.

  2. realfootballfan says: Dec 7, 2013 12:05 AM

    So much for the fraudulent flavor of the moment.

  3. chachooga says: Dec 7, 2013 12:18 AM

    Boise was fun, NIU is just horrible….so glad I won’t have to watch them in a bowl game again this year!


  4. jimmy53 says: Dec 7, 2013 12:23 AM

    Nice to see the “Lynch for Heisman” jokers get brought back down to earth. NIU simply doesn’t play a level of competition worthy of a Heisman winner.

    Just a reminder, Lynch threw 3-17 against a 1-11 team. It’s a joke to even suggest him for the Heisman award. The kid can run, but he simply can’t throw….

  5. classyjacklambert says: Dec 7, 2013 12:42 AM

    Now osu just needs to lose and the BCS will go out ina blaze of glory instead of a whimper.

  6. normtide says: Dec 7, 2013 1:11 AM

    I been saying all along that NIU shouldn’t keep a good team out of a BCS bowl. And, it has nothing to do with my team. Bama has locked its spot in the BCS up.

  7. sportsguy3434 says: Dec 7, 2013 2:14 AM

    There is a gap in FBS schools and we just need to recognize it. They were shown that they were not the caliber of other schools and they didn’t win their conference.

    Great run for you guys and hope you have a sense of pride for your accomplishments even though you lost. Maybe we need to loose the BCS type titles to bowls.

  8. jjsjmls says: Dec 7, 2013 2:31 AM


    Nice selective use of the stats. Yes, he was 3-17 in that game, where there were 20 MPH winds, and he was missing his top two receivers…and ran for an NCAA record 321 yards. To say he can’t throw by pointing to that game is ridiculous. You either haven’t watched any other NIU games, or you are just an idiot. I suspect it is the latter.

  9. vincentbojackson says: Dec 7, 2013 3:14 AM

    I wonder if Michigan State was watching that BGSU defensive game plan? They took away the run and dared Lynch to beat them passing. He couldn’t do it.

    It would seem Braxton Miller is very similar to Lynch in his skill set – gifted runner, below average passer.

  10. Shayn Roby says: Dec 7, 2013 4:46 AM

    Reblogged this on shaynroby and commented:
    Shayn Roby’s Take: Northern Illinois is no longer in the ranks of unbeaten teams, and missed a chance at being a BCS bowl buster.

  11. thefiesty1 says: Dec 7, 2013 8:54 AM

    That’s like getting beat bt Thomas Jefferson Junior High School. Ho Humm! Were there actually 7,000 people in attendance? Move on to big boy football.

  12. jimmy53 says: Dec 7, 2013 1:39 PM


    Of course I’ve watched them–I always make time for the JV squads. :-) Joking aside, I have unfortunately been forced to watch them because they’ve been scheduled when no other teams are playing and they play them in Chi-town all the time.

    I also watched them the last time they played a reputable team–in the Orange Bowl against FSU. It was fun to watch Lynch talk trash and then get stuffed at the line. The only time they could do something was during garbage time.

    How’s this for a stat: before BGU the best record of their opposing teams was 7-4.

    Give me a break–I guess my question for you is do you watch college football at all? It’s pretty obvious that he’s just simply not that good, as last night proved. Thanks for playing.

  13. sburns20 says: Dec 7, 2013 2:06 PM

    Clearly people just want to bash niu, for last year when they hung with FSU for 3 quarters (something no one has done this tear yet but one team). Fair enough niu can only follow the rules the bcs has in place. Hate those people not the schools that follow the rules.

    To say lynch isn’t good is ignorant. He had a bad game, but the defense has a worse game. Still a one loss season is darn good. And what he has done the last 2 years is just amazing for a kid who only got a handful of schools looking at him. Some people bash lynch for saying last year they were going to win. Well who wants a leader who says they are going to loss?

  14. sburns20 says: Dec 7, 2013 2:08 PM

    Jimmy nice try but to dismiss what lynch and niu have done the last few years are refer to them as jv is ignorant.

  15. jimmy53 says: Dec 7, 2013 2:24 PM


    I was obviously joking about the jv squad–hence: “all joking aside” learn to read.

    However, you raise a good issue that someone already mentioned in these posts. There is a major gap in college football, and unfortunately NIU is in the bottom half of that gap. It has to do with recruiting. There are teams like NIU that can make a reach with good coaching or good schemes, but they are typically brought down to earth when playing a team with better talent. To say or believe that NIU is of the same caliber as anyone in the top 15-20 is truly ignorant. To say that they or UCF belong in a BCS bowl game is ignorant. They just lost to an unranked team, and it was the team with the best record that they have played thus far.

    I noticed no one mentioned the stat I brought up–the team with the best record before BGU was 7-4. So, the first time they played a team with a decent record they got shut down–and that team isn’t even ranked. Not just beat–shut down. That is all the proof anyone should need.

    Also, it’s a major stretch to say NIU stayed with FSU for three quarters–they did absolutely nothing until garbage time, and their offense was utterly shut down by the #2 defense in the nation. You apparently watched a different orange Bowl than everyone else.

    It’s just the facts folks. NIU is in the lower echelon of college football. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be proud of what they have done–but don’t fool yourself into thinking they’re actually competitive because the facts say different–any time they play a team better than 7-4 THEY LOSE.

  16. sburns20 says: Dec 7, 2013 2:43 PM

    Per the bcs rules had they won they would of belonged per the bcs guidelines in place end of story. Whether you agree or not with those rules is a mute point they are what they are. Teams like niu, Boise, Hawaii can only follow the rules. And when those schools do follow the rules everyone is up in arms saying they don’t belong. No they belong because they qualified per the rules. Hate the bcs not those schools that follow the bcs rules. Those schools need an awful lot to go right and shouldn’t be punished for being what others feel inferior. The rules are the rules and if they qualify they qualify. Whether one feels their competition wasn’t as great as another is a mute point. You can’t say well that td was only a one yard run so I’m not going to say its worth 6 points cus that 20’yard pass was more pretty and deserves to count for more.

  17. sburns20 says: Dec 7, 2013 2:48 PM

    Teams like niu also have to make their schedules well in advance and it’s not a home and home type of thing. Niu’s non conf next year is at unlv, at ark, at NW. Yeah looking at this year that’s not that great but when they were scheduled Arkansas and NW were good. And it’s not like bcs teams go to Mac schools they have to take what they can get. Niu is playing Nebraska in the future and I think all 3 games are in Nebraska.

    Both Iowa and Purdue were a lot better when they were scheduled and it’s still pretty impressive that niu has 2 road big ten wins is year. That’s more then Illinois, Purdue, and NW combined this year.

  18. jimmy53 says: Dec 7, 2013 2:59 PM

    Illinois, Iowa, and Purdue are also not in the top echelon of college of football–so please don’t expect people to take that as a measure of greatness.

    – You are right the BCS does say you could’ve made the game–but they didn’t make it. My guess–they’ll never make a playoff game. NEVER.

    – by your logic, FSU beat a top 5 team, a top 10 team, two top 25 teams, and they play another top 20 team tonight. When they have a schedule like that then they can sit at the adult table.


    point proved.

  19. sburns20 says: Dec 7, 2013 3:04 PM

    Glad you agree niu did in fact beat 2 big ten teams on the road and would of qualified for the bcs had they won last nite,

    FSU has no impact on those 2 things I stated.

  20. jimmy53 says: Dec 7, 2013 3:09 PM

    The discussion was about the gap between the higher echelon and the lower echelon of college football. You’ve been pushing that NIU belongs amongst the higher echelon which (at least for this year) is defined by making a BCS Bowl game. I think we can agree that FSU is amongst the higher, so I was using it as a basis for comparison.

    Keep up with the conversation or go back to your video games….

  21. sburns20 says: Dec 7, 2013 3:21 PM

    No I said that if niu own last nite they belonged in the bcs because they qualified.

    Never did I say they were an upper echelon team. They are a very good non AQ team.

  22. sburns20 says: Dec 7, 2013 3:23 PM

    I never said niu was an upper echelon team. They are a very good non AQ team. But that had they won last nite they would of qualified for the bcs and deserved to be in a bcs game by qualifying.

  23. jimmy53 says: Dec 7, 2013 3:26 PM

    Good–then I will assume you retract your comment about calling me ignorant–and now understand the difference between a varsity and junior varsity team.

    varsity: FSU

    junior varsity: NIU

  24. gb7061 says: Dec 7, 2013 3:35 PM

    ball state 10-2, lost to niu

  25. jimmy53 says: Dec 7, 2013 3:38 PM

    Thanks gb7061. I missed that one.

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