DeKALB – If things fall Northern Illinois’ way, the Huskies could end up in another Bowl Championship Series bowl game.
Of course, NIU has to take care of its own business first. If the Huskies falter, it won’t matter what Fresno State, which is ranked one spot ahead of No. 18 NIU in the current BCS standings, does the rest of the year.
There won’t be any worry about finishing in the top 12 of the standings, or in the top 16 and ahead of the American Athletic Conference champion.
The Huskies are 31-point favorites against Eastern Michigan this afternoon. NIU also should be a heavy favorite against UMass next week. It’s hard not to look ahead to the game against Ball State on Nov. 13.
NIU coach Rod Carey isn’t looking forward. All he has to do is look back 10 years to see that midseason BCS rankings don’t really matter.
In 2003, NIU was ranked 10th when the first BCS standings were released after starting 7-0. The Huskies lost at Bowling Green that week with College Gameday in attendance, finished 10-2 and didn’t go to a bowl game.
Carey has mentioned the 2003 Huskies to his current squad, talking about how the great start didn’t amount to a storybook ending.
“I tend to look at that and the lesson learned from that. Not putting them down in any way, shape or form because that was a great team and we love those guys,” Carey said. “We had them here [for homecoming], but they’ll say that it doesn’t mean anything until you’re done. So you better do it the way you got here. The way we’ve gotten in this position so far is one little thing at a time.”
Eastern Michigan comes into today’s game at 1-6, with the Eagles’ only win coming against FCS Howard. EMU coach Ron English also is serving as the team’s defensive coordinator this season. English served as Michigan’s defensive coordinator from 2006-07 and was Louisville’s defensive coordinator in 2008.
The switch hasn’t helped, as the Eagles rank last in the Mid-American Conference in scoring defense (49.7 points a game) and total defense (514 yards a game).
It could be a huge day for Jordan Lynch and the NIU offense.
However, if the Eagles were to somehow pull off a huge upset, the Huskies know there won’t be any talk of the BCS on Sunday.
“For me personally, [the BCS rankings aren’t] even my main focus,” NIU defensive end Perez Ford said. “I didn’t even know we were ranked this high until [Tuesday] morning. My girlfriend told me, and she didn’t even know.
“I guess it’s a great opportunity, but all I am really focused on is Eastern Michigan, because yeah, we can go to the BCS bowl game, but as soon as we lose to Eastern Michigan, everything is over.”