ENID, Okla. —
Oklahoma fans have had little to complain about the BCS.
Arguments could have been made the Sooners shouldn’t have been in the national championship games in 2003, 2004 and 2008.
Those arguments grew a little stronger after the Sooners lost all three games.
But today, OU fans can complain about the system.
Northern Illinois, No. 15 in the BCS with a 12-1 record, is in a BCS game and No. 11 OU isn’t.
The Huskies were ranked ahead of Big East champion Louisville in the BCS.
BCS rules state if a conference champion from an non-automatic qualifier is ranked in the top 16 and ranked ahead of a conference champion from an automatic qualifier, it gets to go to a BCS bowl.
So NIU is in fair and square, at least according to the rules.
First, OU can’t complain about a team from a non-qualifying conference getting in since the Sooners lost to Boise State in overtime in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
But that Boise State team, at least, was ranked in the top 10 and undefeated. The Broncs have done their best in recent years to upgrade the schedule.
Let’s not compare this Northern Illinois team to Boise State.
True, since Oct. 2, 2011, the Huskies have the best record in the country (21-1). AP reports that’s two more wins than Alabama and four more over Notre Dame. For the record, it’s five more than OU.
Then let’s look at the NIU schedule.
The one loss came against Iowa 18-17 in the season opener. That’s a Hawkeye team that went 2-6 in the one of the weakest-ever Big 10 in years and 4-8 overall.
It’s also an Iowa team that lost to Iowa State, the Big 12’s No. 9 team, 9-6 at home.
Northern Illinois did beat Big 12 cellar dweller Kansas 30-23. That was a highlight of an otherwise cupcake non-conference schedule, including wins over Tennessee-Martin 35-7 and Army 41-40.
They should get credit for going unbeaten in the Mid-America Conference, which is known for its parity. They beat then-No. 17 Kent State in the BCS Championship. Remember, Kent State lost to Kentucky by 33 points.
But there are eight, or maybe nine Big 12 teams, that could have gone unbeaten with that schedule.
They are at least more legitimate than Louisville, who isn’t even ranked in the Associated Press top 20. Giving the Big East, after losing West Virginia, an automatic bid is an outrage.
OU can only blame itself. If the Sooners had beaten Kansas State, OU would be the undisputed Big 12 champs and be facing Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.
Fiesta officials might have needed two scoreboards to record all the scoring in that game.
Actually, Sooner fans should be mad at old friend Nebraska. If the Huskers don’t get embarrassed in the Big 10 title game (70-31 to Wisconsin), NU would still be in top 16 in the BCS and Northern Illinois would be outside looking in.
Of course, the Sooners might not have been in position for an at-large berth if not for another rule which limits conferences to only two BCS berths. One can’t blame No. 7 Georgia and No. 8 LSU fans to be even madder. Maybe ditto for No. 9 Texas A&M and No. 10 South Carolina.
The only good thing is OU is going to a bowl game (Cotton) that’s a short driving distance against another team (Texas A&M) that should be in a BCS game.
It’s safe to say it’s going to be a lot better than the Orange or Sugar bowls.
Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.