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Associated Press
Northern Illinois wide receiver Tommylee Lewis, left, pats quarterback Jordan Lynch on the neck during a walk-through at Ford Field in Detroit on Thursday.

Hatin' on the MAC

So if you're one of those many people out there in America incensed that Oklahoma got jobbed out of its 937th straight BCS bowl -- don't both of you stand up at once -- you might want to give this post a pass.

No tears will be shed here for the Sooners, no matter how much Kirk Herbstreit and his fellow ESPN trolls whine and rend their garments. That's because Northern Illinois is right where the BCS system says it belongs: In the Orange Bowl, playing Florida State.

The Huskies did nothing but what they were required to do to crack the BCS, so enough already. If you don't like the system, well, it's going away in a couple of years, so sit tight. But don't hate on Northern because of it.

(A pause for a disclaimer: I'm a Ball State grad, and hence a Mid-American Conference guy. So of course I'm ecstatic Northern landed in the Orange Bowl. Sue me.)

Anyway ... a couple of points no one seemed to be making last night:

1. The MAC was rated the nation's fourth best Division I football conference this fall, and with good reason. It likely was never stronger, top to bottom. And at the top, there were a myriad of quality teams -- Northern, Toledo, Kent State, Ohio, and, yes, Ball State -- that proved their worth in the non-conference schedule.

Ball State beat a Big Ten school (Indiana) and a Big East school (South Florida). Ohio beat Penn State at Penn State. Central Michigan, a .500 team in MAC play, beat Iowa at Iowa. Arizona of the Pac-12 had to go overtime to beat Toledo, and Iowa needed a touchdown in the last 2:15 to edge Northern Illinois, after which the Huskies beat Kansas and Army.

So, Northern represents in the Orange Bowl, it says here. And even if it doesn't ....

2. Putting a bigger name school in against Florida State wouldn't likely bump up the interest in the Orange Bowl anyway. The blunt truth is, if you're not a fan or alumnus of one of the schools involved, hardly anyone gives a hoot about any of the BCS bowls anymore. The only game that counts now is the BCS title game. Everything else is just an expensive exhibition.

So, by all means, why not Northern Illinois?

Ben Smith's blog.