College football: BCS gets two stars, outsider
Quarterback Jordan Lynch, who ranks third nationally in total offense, will lead Mid-American Conference champion Northern Illinois against Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
On one side, a blossoming dynasty from the college football capital of the Deep South. On the other, the sport’s most famous team, trying to reclaim its place among the elite.
Notre Dame and Alabama bring star power and power football to the BCS championship game.
The matchup became official last night when the final BCS standings were released and, to no one’s surprise, the Fighting Irish were first and the Crimson Tide was second.
The one bit of drama on selection Sunday was whether Northern Illinois could be this year’s BCS buster. The Huskies got in, earning a spot in the Orange Bowl against Florida State, taking a bid away from Oklahoma and sparking debate.
The other BCS matchups:
• Oregon vs. Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl.
• Wisconsin vs. Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
• Florida vs. Louisville in the Sugar Bowl.
As for the main event in the penultimate Bowl Championship Series, there was little controversy about No. 1 Notre Dame against No. 2 Alabama in Miami.
“The tradition of Alabama and Notre Dame brings special attention to it, but we’re just trying to be the best team on Monday, Jan. 7,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “All of that tradition, what’s happened in the past, is not going to help us Jan. 7, but we do respect the traditions.”
The Irish clinched their spot a week ago by completing a perfect season. Coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide are on the verge of one of the great runs in history. Alabama has a chance to become the first team to repeat as champs since the BCS was implemented in 1998.
Alabama also won the 2009 BCS championship under Saban.
Kelly built his reputation and winning teams at previous stops on fast-paced spread offenses. In South Bend, he has put the fight back in the Irish.
Notre Dame has allowed the fewest touchdowns in the country (10) and is sixth overall in total defense (286 yards per game).
“It’s clear that the formation of any great program is going to be on its defense,” Kelly said. “If you play great defense, you’ve got a chance. For us to move Notre Dame back into national prominence, we had to develop a defense.”
Meanwhile, Northern Illinois is the first Mid-American Conference school to reach the BCS.
The Huskies won the MAC title on Friday, lost coach Dave Doeren to North Carolina State on Saturday and then spent yesterday waiting to see if they cracked the top 16 in the final BCS standings.
By 0.0404 points, the Huskies did just that.
“We are sure excited,” said Rod Carey, the former offensive assistant who was promoted to head coach last night. “It’s been a crazy weekend up here at Northern Illinois.”
The Huskies do have what they consider to be some solid résumé points — a 12-game winning streak and a quarterback, Jordan Lynch, who ranks third nationally in total offense at 364.1 yards per game.
“We’re 12-1,” Lynch told ESPN. “We faced tons of adversity this year. We won tons of games. … We definitely deserve to be in there.”
Five Ohio schools in bowls
Ohio University will play in its fourth straight bowl game when it faces Louisiana-Monroe in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 28 in Shreveport, La.
Toledo will play Utah State in the Famous Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho on Dec. 15. Bowling Green faces San Jose State in the Military Bowl in Washington on Dec. 27.Cincinnati will meet Duke in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., on Dec. 27. Kent State will play Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 6.