MIAMI (AP) -- What a weekend for Northern Illinois: Win a conference championship, lose a coach and bust the BCS.
The Huskies are headed to the Orange Bowl, set to make their Bowl Championship Series debut against Florida State. Northern Illinois won the Mid-American Conference title on Friday, lost coach Dave Doeren to North Carolina State on Saturday, and then spent Sunday anxiously waiting to see if it cracked the top 16 in the final BCS standings.
By 0.0404 points, the Huskies did just that and will play in Miami on Jan. 1 as their reward.
"We are sure excited," said Rod Carey, the former Northern Illinois offensive assistant who was promoted to head coach Sunday evening, just before learning the team made the Orange Bowl. "It's been a crazy weekend up here at Northern Illinois."
The MAC champions (12-1) were 15th in the final BCS standings. Finishing in the top 16 and ahead of the champion of a qualifying conference -- they actually finished ahead of two, Big East winner Louisville and Big Ten titlist Wisconsin -- meant the Huskies were automatically BCS-bound, earning them this date with the Atlantic Coast Conference champion Seminoles (11-2).
Northern Illinois is the first MAC school to reach the BCS. The Huskies were 21st in last week's BCS standings, meaning they not only needed to beat Kent State -- which entered championship week as another BCS hopeful -- in the MAC title game to have a shot, they also needed some help to reach the top 16. And enough help came, particularly with Nebraska losing badly in the Big Ten title game, along with UCLA and Texas both falling over the weekend.
So it's the Huskies and Seminoles, a matchup that surely very few people would have expected when the season began.
"There's nowhere that's more tradition-rich than the Orange Bowl," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said.
And while Northern Illinois will be a fun story line throughout bowl season, the Huskies earned their way into the conversation. Since last Oct. 2, Northern Illinois is 21-1, the best record in the country.
"We are very excited to host two conference champions," Orange Bowl CEO Eric Poms said.
The Huskies do have what they consider to be some solid resume points -- a 12-game winning streak, tying Ohio State and Notre Dame for the longest current run in the nation, and a quarterback who is widely considered to be a star even without being a household name. Jordan Lynch ranks third nationally in total offense at 364.1 yards per game, behind only Baylor's Nick Florence (387.7) and Texas A&M's Heisman-hopeful Johnny Manziel (383.3).
"We're 12-1," Lynch told ESPN. "We faced tons of adversity this year. We won tons of games. ... We definitely deserve to be in there."
Florida State earned its Orange Bowl trip by topping Georgia Tech 21-15 in the ACC title game on Saturday night.
For Florida State, it's the ninth trip to the Orange Bowl and the Seminoles' first since the end of the 2005 season -- a triple-overtime defeat to Penn State, in a game that pitted Joe Paterno against Bobby Bowden.
Bowling Green to Military Bowl
WASHINGTON -- The Falcons are back in the Military Bowl, just not the ones usually associated with the military.
Bowling Green accepted an invitation Sunday to play No. 24 San Jose State at RFK Stadium in the nation's capital on Dec. 27.
The game will feature a Top 25 team for the first time in its five-year history, with San Jose State (10-2) of the Western Athletic Conference entering the rankings on Sunday. The Spartans, who have their first 10-win season since 1987, accepted the bid Friday for their first bowl game since a 20-12 victory over New Mexico in the 2006 New Mexico Bowl.
Bowling Green (8-4) went 6-2 in the Mid-American Conference to place second in the East Division. The Falcons' last postseason appearance was a 43-42 loss to Idaho in the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl, and they are one of a MAC-record seven teams from the conference who are bowl-bound this season.
Toledo to play in Potato Bowl
BOISE, Idaho -- Utah State and Toledo have accepted invitations to play in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
For the No. 18 Aggies (10-2), it's a shot at redemption after losing a last-second thriller 24-23 to Ohio in last year's game, while the Rockets (9-3) are headed for their third straight bowl appearance.
The game is scheduled for Dec. 15 and is one of two that will kick off the annual bowl season.
The Rockets won eight straight games at one point, including an upset of then-No. 18 Cincinnati.
"I think the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl will provide our student-athletes with an outstanding bowl experience, as well as the opportunity to play against a very tough Utah State team," said Toledo head coach Matt Campbell.
Central Michigan to Pizza Bowl
DETROIT -- Western Kentucky is heading to its first bowl since joining college football's top tier in 2009.
The Hilltoppers will play in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit on Dec. 26 against Central Michigan. Western Kentucky (7-5) was also bowl eligible last year but didn't get to play in one.
This is Western Kentucky's fourth season in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Central Michigan (6-6) played in this bowl three straight years from 2006-08.
Kent State to in GoDaddy.com Bowl
MOBILE, Ala. -- No. 25 Kent State will meet Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in the first bowl appearance in 40 years for the Golden Flashes.
The game is played on Jan. 6, the eve of the BCS national championship game.
It's the second straight appearance in Mobile for Arkansas State, which lost 38-20 to Northern Illinois last season.
Kent State has won a program-record 11 games. The Golden Flashes are 0-2 all time in bowl games, including trips to the Refrigerator Bowl in 1954 and the Tangerine Bowl in 1972.
Ohio to Independence Bowl
SHREVEPORT, La. -- Louisiana-Monroe, playing in its first bowl game, will meet Ohio in the Independence Bowl.
The Independence Bowl selected Ohio (8-4, 4-4 MAC) after being told Louisiana Tech was not yet ready to accept an invitation the Dec. 28 contest.
The Warhawks (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt Conference) announced Saturday that they had accepted an invitation to play in Shreveport, which is a drive of less than two hours from Monroe.
The Bobcats, whose selection was announced Sunday night, opened the 2012 season 7-0, including a victory at Penn State. Ohio was ranked as high as No. 25 in the AP poll, but lost four of its last five games.
Ball State to Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Central Florida's loss in the Conference USA championship game has the Knights staying close to home for the holidays against Ball State in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.
UCF (9-4) will make the 100-mile trek west from Orlando to St. Petersburg to face the Cardinals, who will take a six-game winning streak in the Dec. 21 matchup at Tropicana Field.
Ball State (9-3) received its first postseason berth since appearing in the 2008 GMAC Bowl, filling a slot for the Big East, which didn't have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill the league's commitments.