(UPDATE: Northern Illinois beat Kent State in double-overtime Friday night.)
It was three months ago tomorrow. Who could have seen the potential damage it may have caused?
With his team trailing 17-12 to Northern Illinois at Chicago’s Soldier Field, Iowa running back Damon Bullock ran untouched around the left end for a 23-yard touchdown with 2:15 left in the game. That gave the Hawkeyes an 18-17 lead, and that was the final score.
OK, fine. Iowa was favored against the Mid-American Conference team, and escaped with the win. It raised no eyebrows, other than for how hard the Hawkeyes had to labor to secure the victory.
But here we are, awaiting tonight’s Northern Illinois-Kent State MAC championship game in Detroit, and that Huskies loss to Iowa three months ago may cost it an Orange Bowl berth. Or it may not.
The highest-ranked champion of a non-automatic qualifying conference (the MAC is one such league) will receive an automatic berth if it is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS standings or if it is ranked in the top 16 and is higher than at least one champion of an automatic qualifying champion.
Kent State is 17th in the latest BCS standings, Northern Illinois 21st. Louisville, which beat Rutgers to clinch the Big East’s automatic BCS berth, was not in the top 25 of the last BCS poll, and isn’t likely to jet into the top 16.
Now, if Kent State wins tonight, one would think it could get enough of a boost to hop into the top 16. But what if Northern Illinois, a 7-point favorite, prevails?
Well, NIU would have to jump over five teams. Kent State would be one. No. 16 UCLA could easily lose to Stanford in tonight’s Pac-12 title game at
Stanford. No. 18 Texas could easily lose at Kansas State Saturday.
Would a win tonight be enough to get the Huskies over No. 19 Michigan and No. 20 Boise State? You’d like to think so. I would, anyhow.
Had the Huskies just held on against Iowa, a win tonight would have made them 13-0, America’s sweethearts, and probably Florida State’s opponent in the Orange Bowl. And Iowa would have been 3-9 instead of 4-8.
Anyway, here’s hoping the MAC champ does squeeze into a BCS game. If that means Oklahoma doesn’t get to go to the Sugar Bowl, and the BCS bowls (Louisville-Florida in the Sugar, MAC champ-Florida State in the Orange) are considered dogs, well boo hoo.
In a side note, tonight is the last chance for Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch to try to siphon some Heisman Trophy votes. He’s probably not a Top-8 guy right now, but look at these numbers: 23 touchdowns to just four interceptions, 16 rushing touchdowns, 2,750 passing yards, 1,611 rushing yards. He’s fifth in the nation in rushing, 12th in passing efficiency, third in total offense. That’s a combination, folks.
But on Sept. 1, Lynch had just 173 yards of total offense (119 rushing yards, 6-of-16 passing for 54 yards) against Iowa. He averaged 378 yards of total offense in the 11 games that followed.
If the Huskies win tonight, I can say I saw Lynch play in person once and he was nothing special. And then I’ll put him atop my Heisman ballot, anyway.