College Football Rankings 2012: Mid-Majors Who Will Rise with Solid Bowl Games
The AP Top 25 poll features a whopping five teams from the mid-major conferences. Led by Northern Illinois, these teams have played under the radar all season long, but they will have the opportunity for coming-out parties in their bowl games.
These teams will impress on national television and rise up the rankings to end their seasons.
No. 16 Northern Illinois
One could call Jordan Lynch a poor man's Johnny Manziel, but that would assume that Lynch isn't as impressive. On the contrary, Lynch is putting up numbers the country has never seen in his record-setting junior season, and a MAC championship has been the result for Northern Illinois.
Lynch is the star of the show, accounting for 43 touchdowns and 4,773 yards. His 1,771 rushing yards are a record for a quarterback, and his passing efficiency of 153.0 is among the best in the nation.
The Huskies are one of the most complete teams in the nation as well. Lynch ensures balance on offense: The Huskies can run the ball and pass the ball equally well. Further, they play excellent defense, ranking 18th in the nation in points allowed per game.
This is a team that has grown up quite a bit since their opening loss to Iowa, and they are ready to prove it on a national stage. If the Huskies can crash the BCS party, they could find themselves matched up against a true national power. But with Lynch at the helm, the Huskies will be up to the task.
No. 20 Boise State
Unlike most mid-majors, Boise State is no stranger to the national stage. Just this season, it played a physically brutal game against then-No. 13 Michigan State. Despite the loss, this team proved it could play against any team, and it will prove that again come bowl season.
The Broncos' defense leads the show in Boise. Opponents average a meager 4.5 yards per play against the Boise State defense, with stopping the pass being a special strength for the Broncos. Boise State has held opponents to just 166.3 yards per game through the air, and they've also managed 16 interceptions this season as well.
Whoever Boise State pulls for a bowl game will have their hands full trying to score on this defense. Whether playing a national power or another mid-major, the Broncos' defense will impress on national television and should produce a rise in the rankings.
No. 24 San Jose State
It didn't even win its conference, but San Jose State has the ability to make any game entertaining. Whatever bowl game it ends up in, expect it to be among the most entertaining.
This is a Spartans team that nearly defeated Stanford. While they didn't show up against Utah State, the Spartans have been stellar in just about every other game.
Junior quarterback David Fales is one of the underrated signal-callers in the nation. His 3,798 yards and 31 touchdowns are most of the offense in San Jose, with Noel Grigsby providing a receiving spark with 1,173 yards and nine touchdowns.
Defensively, the Spartans are inconsistent but generally solid. They had two major lapses this season against Utah State and Louisiana Tech, but otherwise they've found success on that side of the ball. Especially impressive is their 15 interceptions this season. Bene Benwikere is a legitimate star on defense with seven of those interceptions.
Whoever San Jose State ends up playing, expect plenty of big plays and exciting moments as they find a way to rise in the rankings.
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