The MAC Championship is under way, and after working for the past couple weeks on profiling Jordan Lynch in this ChicagoSide piece, I’m certainly intrigued by NIU’s story and their potential BCS chances.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I have a grasp on BCS algorithms any more than I do dark matter, but with Northern Illinois still in the hunt for a BCS bid, I been doin’ some figurin’.
Listening to pundits, it seems like NIU’s path into the BCS is complicated, and it’s certainly not a given. However, it’s very plausible and if the favorites in every game that affects NIU’s chances win, NIU will be right at either No. 16 or 17 in the BCS. It’s that 16th spot they’ll be banking on to punch their BCS ticket.
NIU currently sits at #21, but Michigan is the only idle team between 16 and 21 in the BCS standings. Everybody else has a game that will dramatically affect their ranking. Boise State and Texas play in late regular season matchups against Nevada and Kansas State, respectively, and UCLA plays Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship. Kent State, of course, takes on NIU tonight for the MAC Championship.
So, for NIU to qualify they need a few things to happen. Obviously they’ll need to win, but they’ll also need losses from Texas and Kansas State in their games. Meanwhile, Boise State is a virtual non-factor, as the Huskies should leapfrog the Broncos with a win regardless of if they win or lose.
It’s a daunting scenario at first glance, but, luckily for NIU, both Texas and UCLA are fairly heavy underdogs in their matchups. So, if things go as planned, that would leave NIU and Michigan jostling for the 16th and 17th positions. This is where style-points come into play.
The computers don’t factor in margin of victory, but they only make up 1/3 of the rankings. Human polls make up the other 2/3, and on a nationally televised stage against a BCS-ranked opponent, a convincing victory will go a long way for the Huskies.
It’s difficult to say how badly they’d have to beat Kent State to jump Michigan in the standings, but obviously the more dominant the better. Unfortunately, even if they dump-truck the Golden Flashes, they’ll be forced to play the waiting game because of the Friday evening slate.
The Huskies could win by 40, but if Texas or UCLA pull off the upset, they’re out. But, NIU’s path is far from impossible.
It should make for an exciting weekend.