So Northern Illinois is going to the Orange Bowl. Northern Illinois from the MAC. Remember the MAC? It’s the conference we left behind because we felt C-USA was better. What’s the difference between Northern Illinois and Central Florida? Nothing. Other than Central Florida has better high school talent to recruit from, better weather, and better facilities. And a better conference of course. So why is UNI going to play FSU on New Year’s Night in Miami and not UCF? Urban Meyer said after the game in week 2 that UCF was a good football team. He knows a little about good football teams. So why are we not the BCS buster? There is no good reason.
The three games that were the difference between UNI and UCF were Missouri, which we had a late first half screw up and then abandoned the run game in the second half for no apparent reason and lost to one of the few SEC teams not going to a bowl this year, and the two Tulsa games. One was lost by two points, the other in overtime. Both games had plenty of plays where UCF messed up a good thing and managed to lose them. From poor clock management at the end of the half, to not knowing the rules on punt coverage, there were plenty of moments that should be blamed on poor coaching.
What we did this year, and several others with near misses everywhere, and what Northern Illinois did is proof that UCF should be realistically expecting to play in major bowl games at least once in a while. We’ve seen many other “directional schools” crack the big time, even though some of those schools are not named with a direction in them. Schools like TCU and Boise State and Utah made it from non-AQ conferences. Now we actually have one with a name like ours. We have a true directional school in a major bowl game, and it isn’t us. That should not be. And the only explanation is O’Leary. Look at how quickly UNI’s coach was snatched up by an AQ school. O’Leary has been here for nine years. Not once has his name been rumored for a higher profile job. That should be telling us something.
So have fun watching the Orange Bowl knowing the Knights were literally three plays away from being in the game themselves.