Northern Illinois Will Play Florida State in Orange Bowl

Ben ChodosCorrespondent IIDecember 2, 2012

Nov 30, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Northern Illinois Huskies defensive tackle Anthony Wells (91) celebrates after defeating Kent State Golden Flashes 44-37 in double overtime to win the 2012 MAC Championship at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

One of the biggest questions surrounding BCS bowl game selections has been answered, and Florida State’s opponent in the Orange Bowl will be Northern Illinois.

UPDATE: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 8:50 p.m. ET by Ben Chodos

The Orange Bowl matchup is official, and Florida State will play Northern Illinois. 

Tom Leyden of WXYZ-Detroit reported the news via Twitter. 

Northern Illinois vs. Florida State in Orange Bowl.

— Tom Leyden (@TomLeyden) December 3, 2012

The Huskies placed No. 15 in the final BCS standings, earning an automatic bid to a BCS bowl.

---End of Update--- 

Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel reported the news via Twitter:

BREAKING: Northern Illinois vs Florida State is official in the Orange Bowl, according to a source.

— Pete Thamel(@SIPeteThamel) December 2, 2012

The Huskies are 12-1 this season and coming off an overtime victory over Kent State in the MAC championship.

According to the BCS selection process:

The champion of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, or the Western Athletic Conference will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if… such team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS standings and its ranking in the final BCS standings is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls.

It is highly unlikely that either Louisville or Wisconsin, who are champions of the Big East and Big Ten, respectively, will finish higher in the standings than Northern Illinois. 

The news Thamel reported suggests that Northern Illinois will crack the Top 16 in the updated BCS standings, which will be released tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Huskies placed No. 16 in both the AP and USA Today polls this week.

With NIU in the Orange Bowl, Louisville will now likely play in the Sugar Bowl after earning an automatic bid as the Big East champions. 

After a wild season full of unexpected results, it is fitting that the BCS bowl matchups also feature an unlikely participant.