Jordan Lynch (left) and Derek Carr are hoping to lead their teams to a BCS bowl game. Who has the best shot? Photo: USA Today Sports photos used in illustration.
As we start to head down the final stretch of the college football season we are focusing largely on who will be playing in the BCS championship game. Of course, there is also the annual look to see who might be crashing the BCS party from one of those other conferences as well. This year there is no Boise State but we do have last year's BCS crasher Northern Illinois in the mix. Unfortunately for the Huskies, it is Fresno State who currently sits in the best position as of right now. This brings us to this week's question…
Two teams are vying to bust the BCS one last time under the current format. Who wins the neck-and-neck race to a BCS bowl game, Fresno State or Northern Illinois (or neither?)
The Case for Fresno State
Fresno State currently is ranked 16th in the BCS standings. As they also are ranked ahead of all of the potential champions from the American conference, Fresno State, under the BCS rules, would automatically receive a BCS invite if awarded today. The Bulldogs look poised to reach (and host) the first Mountain West conference championship game, which could be a rematch with Boise State. One game on the schedule to keep an eye out for is a road trip to Wyoming this weekend.
Tom Perry: Fresno State has the schedule to finish off the perfect season and earn a spot in a BCS Bowl. The only real threat is a season-ending game with San Jose State. In a year like this, I don't believe Fresno should take the spot, but it's apropos that is happen in the final year of the BCS.
David Singleton: Fresno State will. I think both programs will run the table but that the schedule dynamics/perceived relative strength of the conference will be enough to keep the Bulldogs in front of the Huskies.
Andy Coppens: I’m going with Fresno State in this one, but reluctantly. I feel both have a realistic chance at going undefeated, but for some reason Fresno State, who keeps winning narrow games is ranked higher, while NIU who’s played a better overall schedule is just a step behind.
That’s the biggest reason I think the Bulldogs bust the BCS party, they have an easier road to doing that. Sure, they are likely to face Boise State in the first Mountain West championship game, but this isn’t your normal Boise State team.
The Case for Northern Illinois
Last year's BCS buster has been looking strong once again and has two wins over Big Ten teams this season. Of course, the Big Ten victories may not be as meaningful as they once were. The Huskies will be off this weekend but will have their top two games in conference play line up after that. Northern Illinois also gets an extra game on the schedule if they reach the MAC Championship Game, with Fresno State losing a road game at Colorado earlier this season due to flooding and no make-up being able to be scheduled.
Kevin McGuire: Neither team has played a particularly strong schedule, but Northern Illinois has done a better job of handling their opponents with six double-digit victories compared to four for Fresno State. The Bulldogs have also had to go to overtime to knock off a mediocre Rutgers team at home and nearly lost games at Hawaii and San Diego State. Sure, Fresno State has an offense, but Northern Illinois may have a better one.
Andy Coppens: On the other hand, NIU has a date with a very talented Ball State team this week and a 1-loss MAC team in Toledo to finish the regular season. Those won’t be easy games and that’s not to mention a potential date with a very tough opponent out of the MAC East (Buffalo, Bowling Green and Ohio).
However, if both remain undefeated NIU would have the vastly superior overall resume, especially with two road wins over Big Ten teams. Fresno State’s biggest win? A 1 point home OT win over Rutgers.
I’m more impressed with NIU by far, but that’s not what matters for the BCS.
The Case for Neither
What if neither team cracks the BCS? It oculd happen, espevially if the human polls start showing more respect to teams in bigger conferences with an automatic bid despite the two BCS hopefuls remaining undefeated.
Josh Parcell: Fresno State has a better chance to crash the BCS party, but the reality is that neither team deserves to make it that far. The Bulldogs beat Rutgers and Boise State by a single point before beating Hawaii by only five. Northern Illinois struggled with Eastern Illinois, Iowa and Akron. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of Jordan Lynch and Derek Carr, but these teams are only in the BCS conversation because of painfully easy schedules. In order for a non-AQ team to prove it belongs in a BCS bowl, it need an impressive win or two against a high-level opponent. Neither of these teams have done so. In that case, I can't vouch for either teams.
Take a Pick
You've heard what we have to say, now it is your turn. Share a comment below with which team you think has the better shot to reach a BCS game and explain why. You can also tweet us @CrystalBallRun or share your thoughts on our Facebook or Google+ pages.