By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Everybody is looking at the top when complaining about the BCS and who should or likely will be in the title game — which thankfully will be defunct after this season. But lets take a look at the back end, with a rule put in place to favor the little guy that is now being exploited by them.
Northern Illinois is looking to play BCS buster for a second-straight year, but unlike 2012, the Huskies are taking advantage of the BCS rules. Northern Illinois hasn’t played anything this season. NIU’s “best competition” doesn’t even play in the FBS — Eastern Illinois is ranked No. 2 in the FCS and only lost to Northern Illinois by four.
The combined record for the Huskies’ opponents is 57-85, and that drops to an abysmal 46-84 against FBS opponents. Only three of NIU’s opponents this year have a winning record — Iowa (8-4), which the Huskies beat by three in the season opener, Ball State (10-2) and Toledo (7-5). That will slip up to four with Saturday’s MAC championship game against Bowling Green (9-3).
The Huskies have much, much better non-BCS teams to thank for the blessings of the past two season. They also have the terrible American Athletic Conference to thank.
The Boise State team in 2006 — you know the one, that made statues of the Oklahoma Sooners — did face at least one opponent from a BCS conference with a winning record that year. The Broncos beat down the Beavers of Oregon State, 42-14 — the same Oregon State squad that later upset No. 2 USC to snap a 38-game regular season winning streak.
Boise State also had a much better strength of schedule as its opponents had a combined record of 72-79 with five of its opponents earning bowl bids — with all but one winning their bowl, except for Nevada, which lost by one to Miami (Fla.).
Now Northern Illinois did make some Oklahoma State fans smile last season because of their entry into the BCS bowls, Bedlam rival OU was forced out and had to settle for the Cotton Bowl. But OU and NIU could do the same to Oklahoma State this year.
Looking worst case heading into Saturday’s Bedlam battle, if the Cowboys lost to the Sooners — and the Huskies clinch an undefeated season — OSU will be at the mercy of the bowl system once again. If Oklahoma State finishes in the top 14 in the BCS Standings, which seems likely regardless of Saturday’s outcome, but does not get the Big 12 bid — because Baylor or Texas wins the Big 12 title outright — then it will come down to rankings and procedures.
Thanks to the AAC, the Huskies don’t even have to finish in the top 12 as was the case for them last year to earn a non-AQ bid. If NIU finishes in the top 16 and the AAC champion finishes behind the Huskies — which appears highly likely with Central Florida still two spots behind — then Northern Illinois gets another bid.
Of course, fortunately for many football fans and teams alike, this is the last year of the Busted Championship Series. But these loopholes for non-automatic qualifiers that simply exploit the system must be closed with the new playoff system. And perhaps that’s where a committee will truly come into play for the final four — as most members will likely understand an unbeaten MAC team cannot hang with a one- or two-loss BCS team.
Unfortunately, we must wait until next year for idiocy in college football to start creeping out the door. But we all know, there is no way of dispelling it completely until it’s a true playoff system like every other college sport.
Jason Elmquist is sports editor of The Stillwater NewsPress. He can be reached at email@example.com.