Northern Illinois Does Not Owe You a Damn Thing!

It was predictable.  As sure as the sun rises in the east.  As sure as so-called “Mayan Apocalypse” would be a letdown.  As sure as a Christian Slater movie would be a flop.

Yep.  From the moment the BCS Bowl Game Announcements were made, you knew that this was going to happen.  You knew it from the second the Orange Bowl match-up was announced.

No, I am not talking about Florida State beating Northern Illinois.  I am talking about the aftermath.  The “see, I told you so” bullshit.  You knew this was coming.

I know no one outside of DeKalb that actually gave the Huskies a real chance.  Sure, I wanted to see NIU pull the upset.  But, I also knew better.  And, when I made my predictions via Yahoo! Sports, I gave it 24 confidence points (Oklahoma State beating Purdue got 35, for the record).

But, I also felt that NIU would hang around.  They would put up a fight.  But, over time, Florida State would be too much and pull away late.  That is basically what happened.

And yet, people almost seem shocked at the outcome.  As if the dominance was one that they did not see coming.  I write this because most of the post-game criticism has been the “see, NIU did not belong here.”

fsu v niuSays who?  Are you simply ignoring the facts of the game?  Are you overlooking the system that is in play?  Are you forgetting who NIU’s opponent was in the Orange Bowl?

Going into the game against Florida, there were some vocal supporters lauding FSU as being overlooked in the BCS Title Game discussion.  Here was a team that had one-loss — a one-point loss to a mediocre NC State team — that was being treated more like NIU or Kent State.

At one point after the Clemson game, FSU looked very much like a team destined to play for the title; a return to glory.  The defense was suffocatingly fast.  Remember that the Seminoles were second in the country in yards allowed per game (253.4 per game).  Yes, it was against pathetic ACC competition, but this looked like a return to the defenses of the 90’s.  The offense was not too shabby either — top 25 in both points per game and yards per game.

So, FSU at one point was BCS title material.  The loss to the Wolfpack hurt, but they still had a shot going into the Florida game.  But, in the end, the lost.  They then took the ACC title and disappointingly accepted the wrong invitation to Miami — Orange Bowl instead of the BCS National “Championship” Game.

NIU did what they were supposed to do, according to the BCS rules.  Nebraska sucked enough to blow the Big Ten title to the third-best team from the Leaders Division and opened the door for a MAC team to make their BCS debut.

NIU versus Louisville would have been a more comparable match-up.  The Huskies versus Kansas State would have been intriguing.  Even Northern Illinois versus Oregon would have probably produced fireworks.  Would NIU beat any of those three?  Maybe not.  But, the level would have been closer.

Instead, the Huskies faced a very tough FSU team.  One that had the potential to be in the title game, but choked.  It was perhaps the worst possible BCS match-up for NIU, save maybe Florida.  And, thus, the outcome should not have been a surprise.

Recall the 2008 Sugar Bowl between Hawai’i and Georgia.  The Warriors were undefeated going into that game, though that record was buoyed by a fairly weak schedule.  The Bulldogs were pissed off…angry that they were passed over for the BCS title game for LSU (the SEC champs; Georgia finished second in the East behind Tennessee).  Like FSU, Georgia had title-quality talent but fell just shy of the title game.  And, like FSU, Georgia was far superior compared to Hawai’i.

It was not the Warriors’ fault; it was a terrible draw for them.  They still “deserved” to be there.  Georgia was just that much better.

I would argue that NIU is actually better than Hawai’i was in 2007-08.  But they faced a team that was simply better in all aspects of the game.  It is NOT an indictment on the Huskies, the MAC, or the “small guys.”  It is simply an indication of how good FSU is as a team; or at least, the potential the Seminoles possessed.

So, NIU owes you nothing.  They do not need to apologize for having to jump through hoops just to make it to a big-money bowl game.  They do not have to justify their moment in the spotlight.  And, they do not have to prove that FSU was the superior team.

We knew that from the beginning.  We know that Florida State could have scored more had they not had miscues or a terrible third-down conversion rate (made only less-terrible by NIU’s abysmal third-down conversion rate).  But, that does not mean that Northern Illinois did not belong in a BCS bowl game.  It just means that FSU is that much better than NIU.  Plain and simple.

So save your sad “overrated” chants (really, Nole fans!?  that’s what you’ve come to?).  Save your “they don’t belong” spiel.  Save your “see I told you so” bullshit.

Because, all of those things could apply to the Seminoles and their pathetic conference.  Remember, with this win, the ACC is now 3-13 in BCS bowl games.  Who really belongs?

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