Northern Illinois was bombarded with criticism from all sides following their selection to the Orange Bowl, most notably from ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit.
Northern Illinois won the MAC Championship on Saturday and finished the season with a 12-1 record and ranked No. 15 in the BCS standings. That resume, along with several BCS rules, qualified the Huskies ahead of Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and others, much to the dismay of Herbstreit. Speaking shortly after the Orange Bowl matchup was announced, Herbstreit ranted about the flawed system and called Northern Illinois' inclusion a "joke".
Northern Illinois' one and only loss came at the hands of the Iowa Hawkeyes in the first game of the season, 18-17. Iowa finished the season 4-8. Since then, the Huskies have won 12 straight games, capping off their season with a double-overtime victory against the No.17 Kent State Golden Flashes on Saturday. As pointed out by the ESPN staff, they are the only non-power conference team to qualify for a BCS game without an undefeated record.