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With the playoff system set to start in the 2014-2015 College Football season, this will be the final year to watch for BCS busters. A BCS buster is a team which comes from a non-AQ (Automatic Qualifying) conference which has a remarkably good season and may deserve a spot in one of the four BCS bowl games.

This year we have watched Northern Illinois and Fresno State win week after week, attempting to forge a path to a BCS berth. Northern Illinois earned one last year, but lost in the Orange Bowl to Florida State, while Fresno State has never been to a BCS bowl game. Despite being favored to win the rest of their games, #17 Northern Illinois and #16 Fresno State still have their fair share of obstacles to hurdle before they can get the nod from the BCS. Let’s break down each team:

NIUPride of the MAC, Northern Illinois’s one key victory is against the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Hawkeyes may not be a powerhouse, but Iowa is a member of the Big 10 and has one of the most stingy defenses in the country. NIU has a power running game and can put up points in the air. Averaging 307.5 yards a game, they rank 6th in the nation for running offenses. Senior quarterback Jordan Lynch has already surpassed 1000 yards on the ground in only 8 games. Behind Lynch is running back Cameron Stingily, he has 726 yards on the ground. Lynch is also a pretty decent quarterback, completing almost 63% of his passes for 1711 yards and 18 touchdowns, I wonder how does he find time to throw while he is running all over the field?

FSUNext we look at Fresno State. This Mountain West favorite has spent the year piling points on to opponents. In their largest game of the year, they dropped 52 points on AAC team Rutgers, otherwise they score an average of 44 points a game. Under center is 3 year starter Senior quarterback Derek Carr. Under Carr’s leadership, Fresno State averages 371 passing yards a game, which is 7th in the nation. Carr has thrown for 2574 yards this season and has thrown 25 TDs to only 4 INTs. Carr is completing 69% of his attempts and has gotten progressively better each year with the Bulldogs. Fresno State has 7 receivers with more than 10 catches and 5 who have caught TDs. Fresno State has proven they can spread out defenses and make plays.

For a non-AQ team to play in a BCS bowl game, they have to win their conference championship and finish with a top 12 ranking in the BCS poll and then be invited to a BCS bowl by the bowl selection committee, the other route is decided if the highest rated non-AQ champion finishes the season ranked in the top 16 and above the champion of an AQ conference. This process has been under scrutiny the entire existence of the BCS, however it wasn’t until 2004 when the first non-AQ team was selected for a BCS bowl game, where Utah beat Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl and became the first BCS Buster.

During the BCS era, Boise State and TCU have provided the biggest controversies, but Utah, Hawaii, and Northern Illinois have all played in BCS games. Utah, Boise State, and TCU have won BCS bowl games and have earned the title “BCS Buster.” We’ll have to wait until the end of the season to see if either Fresno State or NIU will be added to that list.