The University of Central Florida stunned Louisville Friday night, 38-35, with a late touchdown upsetting the undefeated Cardinals. Louisville entered the game the ranked No. 8 in the AP Poll and No. 6 in the Coaches Poll and will most likely fall dramatically in the standings come Sunday. Northern Illinois fans everywhere cheered the Louisville loss as it was the biggest obstacle in the Huskies chase to crash the BCS again. But even with the Cardinals dropping in the rankings it still wont be an easy road to the BCS for the Huskies. There are still a lot of obstacles they must hurdle if they want to play on January 1st again.
First, and most importantly, they must win out. Most of their games look manageable, with Ball State and Toledo looking to be the two toughest. However, Toledo hasn't looked as good this year as it has in the past few and NIU gets Ball State at home, where it has won its last 23 games - the nations longest home winning streak. The Huskies have run the table in the MAC before, doing it twice in the last three years. They NEED to do it again, and look better than they have this year while doing it. A 7-point win at home versus Akron did not help NIU at all. The Huskies need the style points from wins like Saturday's 21-point victory over CMU to get the attention of the voters again.
Secondly, the Huskies need to climb to at least No. 16 in the BCS standings and have Louisville (or any AQ champion) finish lower than them. Or they can avoid all that if they finish higher than No. 12 in the BCS, but that's not as likely. The first BCS rankings will be revealed Sunday evening, but in a few projections the Huskies could start as high as 19th.
Finally, NIU's biggest competition to busting the BCS again is Fresno State. The Bulldogs are 6-0 and ranked higher than Huskies in both the AP and Coaches polls. If you look at the schedules though, the Huskies should have a SLIGHT advantage over them, and based on projected BCS rankings, they do. Fresno barely got by Rutgers and Boise at home and had a close game at Hawaii. Yes, they did destroy Idaho - a team NIU struggled with early - but winning on the road in two B1G stadiums is a harder feat to accomplish.
Thankfully, for NIU fans, the BCS computers use more then just the AP and Coaches polls, because, while Fresno leads NIU in those polls, the Huskies have the advantage in the Sagarin, Colley, Massy, and Billingsley rankings. So far the Billingsley is the most helpful, ranking NIU No.13 and Fresno No. 36. In the BCS projections the Huskies lead Fresno by .0047. Of course, those are only projections.
But, still, there is a chance! There is more than just a chance...but it all starts with wins. Can NIU rattle off six more wins in a row? We've all learned to never count Jordan Lynch out and he wants redemption from last year's BCS game. And when Lynch is motivated...there is always a chance.