NIU has emerged from the shadows of the top conferences to rank among the best schools in the country, netting a bid to the Orange Bowl New Year's Day, where they will take on Florida State.
When the news of the BCS bowl was announced, the ESPN analysts weighed in on NIU and whether the Huskies deserved to be there.
Kirk Herbstreit, in particular, held nothing back:
"The fact that Northern Illinois is in the BCS in 2012 is really a sad state for college football and where we are in the current system," Herbstreit said. "Thank goodness we're moving toward a new system in 2014.
"They don't deserve to be in the BCS this year. Are you kidding me with Northern Illinois playing in the BCS? Northern Illinois, no one knew they were playing until the Toledo game a few weeks ago. You're going to leave Oklahoma out to put Northern Illinois into a BCS bowl game? Are you kidding me?"
While it's true teams like Oklahoma, Georgia and Florida are more nationally known and followed than NIU, the rules as stated put the Huskies in the position to beat higher-profile teams into one of the final BCS spots.
Herbstreit and the other analysts have a good point, however, in that NIU's only loss was to Iowa, who had an underwhelming season and finished amongst the bottom-feeders in the Big Ten.