The final Bowl Championship Series standings on Sunday produced a lot of expected news and one big surprise.
Notre Dame and Alabama, in what everyone knew was just a formality, finished first and second in the final standings and will meet Jan. 7 in South Florida for the BCS title.
The surprise was Northern Illinois, the Mid-American Conference champion at 12-1, sneaking into the top 16 to earn an automatic bid to a major bowl. The Huskies will play Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
Northern Illinois finished No. 15 in the final standings. The Huskies defeated Kent State in Friday night’s MAC title game and then took advantage of losses by Nebraska, Texas and UCLA to jump from No. 21 into the BCS lineup.
BCS rules stipulate a team from a “non-qualifier” conference earns a bid if it finishes in the top 16 ahead of a major conference champion. Northern Illinois actually finished ahead of two “AQ” champions in Louisville (Big East) and Wisconsin (Big Ten).
Northern Illinois’ huge BCS comeback knocks powerhouse Oklahoma out of a BCS game and into the Cotton Bowl.
It was a historic day for the MAC, which earned its first BCS bid and pulled off one of the greatest final-weekend comebacks in BCS history.
In 2007, Louisiana State rose from No. 7 to No. 2 on the final weekend to earn a trip to the title game, which it won.
Here’s the BCS top 10: Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida, Oregon, Kansas State, Stanford, Georgia, Louisiana State, Texas A&M and South Carolina.
The SEC placed six teams in the BCS top 10. UCLA finished No. 17 and San Jose State ended up No. 24.
The final BCS lineup is now official:
BCS: Notre Dame vs. Alabama
Rose: Stanford vs. Wisconsin
Fiesta: Oregon vs. Kansas State
Sugar: Florida vs. Louisville
Orange: Northern Illinois vs. Florida State.
The rest of the bowl games include:
GoDaddy.com, Jan. 6: Kent State vs. Arkansas State
BBVA Compass, Jan. 5: Pittsburgh vs. Mississippi
Cotton, Jan. 4: Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M