Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE
While Notre Dame fans expected to be on top of the latest BCS standings, fans of Northern Illinois and Northwestern were pleasantly surprised to see their teams ranked.
As expected, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are on top of the latest BCS standings after their victory over the USC Trojans. The Irish are headed to the BCS National Championship Game and await the winner of Alabama and Georgia.
While Notre Dame's spot atop the standings was no surprise, there were no guarantees for the Northern Illinois Huskies and Northwestern Wildcats. Neither team was in the previous standings, but the Huskies came in at No. 21 this week while the Wildcats are at No. 22.
Northern Illinois has had a storybook season, going 11-1 behind dynamic quarterback Jordan Lynch. The Huskies have an outside shot at a BCS bowl, but Mike Breese at SB Nation's Northern Illinois blog Red and Black Attack says the focus should be on the upcoming contest against Kent State:
Good thing for the Huskies is that the margins are razor thin for teams on the latter part of the BCS. Impress on Friday at 6 PM and the Huskies could be boosted right up to the top-sixteen, needed for that Orange Bowl.
As for now, NIU needs to focus on one thing and that's focus on beating Kent State in the biggest MAC Championship game of all-time.
Meanwhile, Northwestern re-entered the standings after its 50-14 beat-down of Illinois. The Wildcats have had little success as a ranked team, as noted by Rodger Sherman of SB Nation's Northwestern blog Sippin' On Purple:
After losing to Michigan a few weeks ago when ranked No. 24, Northwestern is now 0-8 - yup, that's eight games, eight losses - as a ranked team in the BCS, which, is, uh, well, umm, bad. They're also No. 22 in the AP Poll - they were also No. 24 before playing Penn State, and have last their last five games as a ranked team in there - and No. 20 in the Coaches poll.
Both Northern Illinois and Northwestern were aided by plenty of losses by teams that had been ranked in the previous standings, but neither Huskies nor Wildcats fans are complaining.