NIU in Orange? Blame the BCS
Gene Wojciechowski [ARCHIVE]
ESPN.com
December 3, 2012
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A slightly abridged version of BMOC ...

15. Bowl bashing

I have no statistical evidence to support this, but here's guessing that more has been written about Northern Illinois football in the past 24 hours than in the previous 24 years.

I'm thrilled that the Huskies will play Florida State in the Discover Orange Bowl for three reasons:

1. Everybody loves an underdog, and the little fellas from DeKalb against big, mean Florida State is the ultimate underdog story.

2. Please explain to me what Northern Illinois did wrong. It won 12 games. It won the MAC. It featured one of the most fun-to-watch players in the country, quarterback Jordan Lynch. Plus, there's no evidence that it hacked into the computer systems of the six BCS formulas. It didn't bribe poll voters. So instead of telling the Huskies to get lost, maybe it's time to offer them a cold Frostie and a seat at the table.

3. NIU's selection as a BCS bowl team proves what I've been saying since I had hair: The BCS system isn't a system at all, but a beater car that keeps getting new coats of paint. It looks OK but can't make it down the block without the engine block falling off.

I'm not outraged that Northern is a BCS bowl team. I'm actually happy for the Huskies. I mean, if a five-loss Wisconsin team can play in the Rose Bowl presented by Vizio and Louisville (of the dreadful Big East) can play in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, what's so horrible about NIU in the Orange?

Oh, I know: FSU is going to crush the Huskies? Really? We know this for sure how?

By the way, Louisville is more of an odds 'dog to Florida in the Sugar than NIU is to FSU. And even if the Seminoles do win convincingly -- let's say, by 21 points -- that would be the same margin that Alabama beat LSU in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game last season. Or if the Huskies keep the margin of defeat to fewer than 37 points, they'll have fared better than ACC power team Clemson did in its 70-33 blowout loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl last season.

So quit worrying about how NIU will hold up against Florida State. Remember, FSU is the same team that lost to NC State earlier this season and imploded in the loss to Florida. So the Noles aren't invincible.

14. Bowl bashing -- part II

Anyway, this isn't about Northern Illinois. This is about the knuckleheadedness of the BCS.

How many times have we heard from BCS supporters that -- all together now -- the BCS gets it right?

OK, sure, the BCS got it right with No. 1 Notre Dame versus No. 2 Alabama in the Discover BCS National Championship Game. Then again, how was the BCS going to get that wrong? It was a no-brainer.

But no Georgia in a BCS bowl?

No Oklahoma in a BCS bowl?

No LSU in a BCS bowl?

It isn't NIU's fault it got in ahead of those teams. People complained about access issues relative to non-automatic qualifiers, and this was the solution: Make it possible for, say, a 12-1 MAC team to reach a BCS bowl and, as an unintended consequence, squeeze out a higher-ranked LSU team and, in OU's case, a Big 12 co-champion and, in Georgia's case, an SEC Eastern Division title winner.

But if you want the best teams in the best games, Georgia ought to be in a BCS bowl. Even Nick Saban, whose Bama team beat the Bulldogs (barely) in the SEC championship game, said so.

Oklahoma ought to be in one. It lost to Kansas State and Notre Dame. But the Sooners are out and Louisville, Wisconsin and NIU are in?

LSU ought to be in one. It lost to No. 2 Bama and No. 3 Florida by a combined 12 points.

This is the BCS world we live in. In 2014 the world will spin out of orbit, crash into other planets and be replaced by a four-team playoff and new mechanisms.

Will it be perfect? Of course not. Will it be better than this mess? Georgia, OU and LSU will take their chances.

13. Bowl fun

My three favorite non-BCS bowl matchups:

1. Baylor vs. UCLA in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.

2. LSU vs. Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

3. South Carolina vs. Michigan in the Outback Bowl.

My favorite BCS bowl matchup that isn't for a national championship: Oregon versus Kansas State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

My favorite obscure bowl matchup: Toledo vs. Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

12. Roll Tide

I picked Georgia to beat Alabama in the SEC championship. I don't apologize for the pick, just as UGA coach Mark Richt doesn't apologize for the loss, or for not spiking the ball in the final seconds, or for challenging a reporter in the postgame news conference about the perception that he and his team can't win a "big" game.

I picked Georgia not because I thought it was necessarily a better team than Bama but because I know how impossibly hard it is to win these kinds of games again and again. I picked Georgia because I loved the way the Bulldogs were trending and because I wasn't convinced the Crimson Tide could keep stiff-arming the law of averages.

But Bama is Bama and Nick Saban is Nick Saban because they reinvent how they win but not who they are. And at the end of the day, Bama is a team that won't take no for an answer.

From a pure talent standpoint, this isn't the best Tide team Saban has coached. And that's not me talking, that's Bama's own Barrett Jones saying it.

"We don't have stars," the senior All-American center said. "That's why I love this team."

What the Crimson Tide have are gamers.

Jones said what he said while sitting at his locker in the Georgia Dome, a pair of crutches leaning against a wall to his right. Bama had just beaten the Bulldogs 32-28 in the best-ever SEC championship, and Jones had played almost the entire game with an injured left foot. He needed the crutches to make it from the bench to the postgame trophy presentation and then to the Tide locker room.

"Probably my favorite win I've ever had," Jones said.

Think about that for a moment. Jones has won two national championships at Bama, but this was his favorite victory.

It was his favorite because it was the SEC championship, because of the quality of opponent, because of the Nov. 10 home loss to Texas A&M, because of the way the Crimson Tide won. Alabama not only overcame a 21-10 third-quarter Georgia lead, but it overcame it in primal fashion. The Crimson Tide ran until Georgia finally dropped.

"That's your favorite thing as an offensive lineman," Jones said. "You know it's a run. They know it's a run. And they can't stop it."

Bama ran for 350 will-imposing yards. And yet, it still came down to the final play.

11. Roll Tide -- part II

Jones will remember the night of Dec. 1, when the Tide earned the right to play...
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