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BCS dogfight with Bulldogs

Daily Chronicle sports editor Ross Jacobson and sports reporter Steve Nitz spend their days covering the area’s sports scene. Occasionally, they give their viewpoints on those local sports. In this installment of their Take 2 column, they discuss Fresno State vs. Northern Illinois in the BCS rankings.

Nitz: NIU came in at No. 18 in the first Bowl Championship Series standings of the season, one spot behind Fresno State. Were you surprised NIU came in as high as it did in the BCS?

Jacobson: After winning at Central Michigan and seeing the polls Sunday, I thought NIU would be no higher than No. 20 in the BCS. But the computers helped out even though the Huskies have played only one team with a winning record in FBS through its first seven games. 

But to start all the way at No. 18, even if the Huskies do trail Fresno State, bodes well for the possibility of getting to another BCS game. 

Nitz: I thought it was a great weekend for NIU. First, Central Florida upsets Louisville on Friday, meaning either the Huskies or Bulldogs have a good shot at finishing ahead of the American Athletic Conference champion.

When I saw the polls Sunday, I thought NIU wasn’t going to be higher than 20th in the BCS. I still think the Bulldogs would have to lose for the Huskies to jump them. 

It will be interesting to see how much NIU and Fresno move up in the Coaches and Harris polls these next two weeks. For the Huskies, wins over Eastern Michigan and UMass won’t impress anyone. Fresno State at least gets two halfway decent opponents – 3-3 San Diego State and 3-4 Nevada.

Jacobson: It’s going to require losses from higher-ranked teams, specifically, the teams ranked between 10 and 15. At this point, NIU fans should become supporters of the top teams such as Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State to run the table and knock off some of the middle-ranked teams. 

Jerry Palm, CBS’ BCS guru, said on Twitter that he thought an undefeated Fresno State would finish ahead of an undefeated NIU at the end of the season. It all means that things likely will have to break the Huskies’ way once again.

Nitz: To me, Fresno is the main team NIU fans need to worry about. I think either team will be able to get into the top 12, or the top 16 and ahead of the AAC champion, though it certainly isn’t guaranteed.

Since the BCS was expanded in 2006, every unbeaten non-AQ conference champion has earned an automatic spot in the BCS, with two exceptions. Those exceptions were Boise State in 2006 and 2008. However, in 2006, Boise State, who didn’t get the automatic bid after finishing behind fellow unbeaten non-AQ TCU, earned an at-large spot and beat the Horned Frogs in the Fiesta Bowl. In 2008, the WAC champion Broncos were left out after finishing behind Mountain West champion Utah. 

NIU fans need to be concerned about Fresno State. Unfortunately for the Huskies, if both teams go unbeaten, I think NIU will wind up in the same situation Boise State was in in 2008.

Jacobson: If NIU fans want some comforting history, Fresno State started 6-0 in 2001 and were ranked No. 8 in the country.

That was the closest Fresno State got to a BCS berth, but the Bulldogs lost back-to-back games to Hawaii and Boise State and were relegated to the Silicon Valley Classic after finishing with an 11-2 record. 

No matter what the schedules suggest, it never is easy to run the table.

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