By John Shinn
Norman Transcript / CNHI News Service
NORMAN, Okla. —
Oklahoma understood by Sunday afternoon that it was going to the Cotton Bowl. Once the polls that compose the BCS formula started coming, the writing was on the wall.
However, the stunning rise that made Northern Illinois an automatic qualifier for a BCS game — it will face ACC champion Florida State in the Orange Bowl — was unprecedented.
No team had ever risen from outside the top 25 in the BCS standings in the final weeks until Northern Illinois did it — with wins over Eastern Michigan and Kent State in the MAC championship game.
West Virginia made a jump from unranked to 16th in 2009, but it did not play in a BCS bowl game.
Georgia Tech jumped from 22 to 14 in the final two weeks in 2008. The Yellow Jackets also didn’t get a BCS bowl bid.
Wake Forest jumped from 21 to 14 in 2006. It did win the ACC title that season and went on to the Orange Bowl.
One more unbelievable fact about Northern Illinois’ rise: It went from No. 21 to 15 in the BCS standings in the final BCS standings.
When Texas A&M, which will face OU in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 4, beat then-No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 10, the Aggies jumped seven spots.
Hard to argue that Texas A&M’s win over the Crimson Tide was the most impressive of the college football season. After all, Alabama will face undefeated Notre Dame in the national championship game Jan. 7.
However, according to the six computer polls used in the BCS formula, Northern Illinois’ victory over Kent State in the MAC title game was more impressive.
Texas A&M’s computer average, which makes up a third of a team's BCS point total, jumped from No. 11 to No. 8 after beating Alabama.
Northern Illinois went from No. 23 to No. 19 after it beat Kent State.