BCS Rankings: How Week 14 Will Shake Up Top 25

Ethan GrantAnalyst IDecember 1, 2012

Nov 30, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Northern Illinois Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch (6) looks to the sidelines in the third quarter of the 2012 MAC Championship against the Kent State Golden Flashesat Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

With Notre Dame sitting comfortably out of reach for the rest of the 24 teams that make up the BCS Top 25, it's going to be a battle to see where the rest of the field will finish when the final rankings come out in January.

Specifically, the MAC championship, Kansas State versus Texas and the Pac-12 Championship have the ability to change the bowl projections of many of the nation's experts.

For now, the top of the rankings don't mean much in deciding which teams are going where. Conference alignment is helping to make those matchups easier to understand, not where the teams wind up in the next Top 25 ballot.

Still, No. 17 Kent State and No. 21 Northern Illinois made things a little bit clearer after a thrilling MAC championship game on Friday night.

The Huskies won the game in double overtime and with it the opportunity to bust the BCS wide open, but it will all depend on the rest of the field. The rule for non-automatic qualifiers is simple: get in the Top 16, finish ahead of a conference champion and make it to a BCS at-large spot.

That spot for the Huskies would be the Orange Bowl. Louisville punched a ticket to the dance after beating Rutgers on Thursday night, but the Cardinals await the BCS standings to see if the voters want to see them or the Huskies on a national stage.

According to CBS Sports' Jerry Palm, it's going to be a long road for the Huskies to achieve BCS glory:

UCLA loss, Texas loss, Boise loss, Voter epiphany. RT @jjcregier What needs to happen for @niuathletics to go to the #BCS ?

— Jerry Palm (@jppalmCBS) December 1, 2012


Elsewhere, Stanford and UCLA factor heavily into this decision. The Nebraska Cornhuskers could also have a role in the outcome of the BCS bowl bracket, even with a loss.

With their win, the Cardinal are headed to the Rose Bowl, which helps the Huskies. But will voters punish UCLA for this loss? Is a MAC team that finished 11-1 better than a Bruins team that took the No. 8 team in the country down to the wire?

Either way, it's the first road block to the BCS and one that the Huskies can't avoid.

The rest of the country can also play a part. With a win, Nebraska will join the Rose Bowl and stay above the Huskies. With a loss, the Cornhuskers could potentially drop down below that mark, especially if Wisconsin comes back to win big. Conversely, the Badgers could even jump the Huskies in the standings with a convincing enough win.

Texas and Boise State are both looking to stay above Northern Illinois.

Texas would actually ruin its Cotton Bowl hopes if it beats Kansas State but would guarantee that Northern Illinois would not jump them. Boise State will also have a claim to the Top 16, even though it's idle this weekend and had a soft schedule.

There's a lot left to play out. The Pac-12 and MAC championships helped to turn multiple variables into even more variables, but that's just the nature of the beast when it comes to college football.

Would you watch the Orange Bowl if Northern Illinois were there? What about Boise State?

It's a wild weekend in college football, but if you're a true fan of the sport and these student athletes, you wouldn't have it any other way.


Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.