Northern Illinois' unprecedented inclusion in the Bowl Championship Series lineup isn't sitting well with ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit.
Northern Illinois (12-1) earned the Mid-American Conference's first major bowl berth by meeting the requirements for a non-BCS league team: finishing in the top 16 and ahead of the champion of a BCS automatically-qualifying conference.
They accomplished both in beating Kent State for the MAC championship, jumping from No. 21 to No. 15 in the final BCS standings. After beating out the Big Ten's Wisconsin (unranked) and the Big East's Louisville (No. 21) in the final standings, the Huskies accepted an Orange Bowl invitation to play ACC champion Florida State at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.
"The fact that Northern Illinois is in the BCS in 2012 is really a sad state for college football and where we are with the current system," Herbstreit said on ESPN's BCS selection special Sunday night. "Thank goodness we're moving toward a new system in 2014. They don’t deserve to be in the BCS this year. Are you kidding me with Northern Illinois playing in the BCS? You’re going to leave Oklahoma out to put Northern Illinois in to a BCS bowl game?
"We have this rule that we can’t have more than two teams in the BCS from one conference. Who came up with this rule? To leave teams out like Georgia, Texas A&M and Oklahoma . . . All of us want to see those teams in games that matter in the BCS Bowl games. And you’re going to give us Northern Illinois? What have they done this year?
"I love MAC football, don’t get me wrong. But to put them in the BCS is an absolute joke to the rest of these teams who are more deserving. The eyeball test, the resume . . . Iowa is the worst team in the Big Ten, and they lost to Iowa. I can’t even believe we’re having this discussion."
The No. 12 Seminoles, playing in front of an overwhelmingly pro-FSU crowd, are expected to be huge favorites against Northern Illinois on New Year's Day. Opening betting lines in Las Vegas have Northern Illinois a 13.5-point underdog.
"Northern Illinois is a tremendous team, and as we saw in 2007 when Boise State played Oklahoma, those kind of matchups bring out theatrics," Orange Bowl director Eric Poms said on a teleconference Sunday night.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun