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NIU needs fortuitous bounces to make BCS

Northern Illinois, No. 21 in the BCS rankings, has a slight chance at making a BCS bowl game for the first time in school history.

The Huskies must fulfill three requirements:

1. Finish in the top 16 of the BCS rankings
2. Be the highest ranked league champion from a non-AQ conference
3. Finish higher than one of the six champions from a BCS conference

Here's what needs to happen for the Huskies to have a shot:

NIU vs. Kent St., MAC Championship

Game time: 6 p.m. today
Rooting interest: NIU
Why it matters: The loser of the MAC Championship will be eliminated from BCS bowl contention. An NIU victory over Kent State would give the Huskies their best win of the season; a solid win could potentially play well with voters and the computer rankings.

UCLA at Stanford, Pac-12 Championship

Game time: 7 p.m. today
Rooting interest: Stanford
Why it matters: UCLA is No. 16 in the BCS rankings, five spots ahead of NIU. A UCLA loss – preferably one by a healthy margin – like the Cardinal's 35-17 win last week – would open the door for NIU to move past UCLA and crack the top 16.

Boise St. at Nevada

Game time: 2:30 p.m. Saturday
Rooting interest: Nevada
Why it matters: Boise State is No. 20 in the BCS rankings. NIU would need to jump Boise State to become the highest ranked non-AQ team; a Broncos loss to Nevada would ensure that.

Texas at Kansas St.

Game time: 7 p.m., Saturday
Rooting interest: Kansas St.
Why it matters: At No. 18 in the BCS rankings, Texas is another team ahead of the Huskies. The Longhorns will be without injured QB David Ash and are heavy underdogs on the road.

USA Today and Harris polls

Release: Sunday morning
Why it matters: The two human polls make up two-thirds of the BCS rankings. NIU will have to impress voters enough to move them up the rankings. The computer polls haven't been too favorable to NIU, so the Huskies' BCS chances hinge on significant improvement in these two polls.

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