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Possible BCS Busters for 2013

usfbulls-wrLast year, the Northern Illinois Huskies played in the Orange Bowl against the Florida State Seminoles. Nobody would have predicted this at the beginning of the season. Usually when we think of “BCS Busters”, schools from conferences other than the “BCS” conferences who make it to one of the BCS Bowls, we think of Boise State, TCU  (who is now in a BCS conference) or Utah (also now in a BCS conference). The Huskies proved last year that just about anybody can crash the party now. Northern Illinois is what college football people call a “directional school.” The meaning behind that is they have a direction in their name (Northern, Southern, Central, Western, Eastern, etc.). The implication being that they can’t be very good since they only cover a small part of a state.

This ignores Southern California of course, who by definition would be a directional school but has long been a national power in college football. Of course, they also play in the second largest market in the nation and the largest that fields college football teams in major conferences. That does not hurt.

But with Northern Illinois crashing the party a year ago, this begs the question, are there other so-called directional schools to look out for in the future, maybe even this season? Here are our leading candidates:

1. Northern Illinois– That’s right, look for the Huskies to be back this year with their superstar quarterback Jordan Lynch returning. With the troubles off the field that are plaguing Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman front-runner Johnny Manziel, Lynch could be the one to step up and take his spot. Lynch threw for over 3800 yards and ran for over 1800 last season. This guy can flat out play some football. If he played at a bigger name school, he’d be Tim Tebow or Cam Newton.

2. Central Florida– This is a program on the verge of busting out and becoming a BCS Buster. They have all the tools. They have a nice, new on-campus stadium. They are located in a college football fanatical area. High school football near them is among the best in the nation. The weather is nice almost year-round which helps recruiting. All they need is to pull off a big upset or two and get people’s attention. They have been on the verge of this for years now. If they can ever get the right coach there, watch out.

3. Western Kentucky– Any team with Bobby Petrino as the head coach is going to be dangerous. He turned both Louisville and Arkansas into top-notch programs so there is no reason to believe he can’t do it for WKU. It may take him a couple of years, but let’s not forget, the Hilltoppers were good last season. The job didn’t open up because they fired the coach. It opened up because he took a better job, which brings us to…

4. South Florida– USF has been threatening to become a national power for years now. They have beaten many of the “big boys” in college football such as Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame, Auburn and Clemson. They have had a major dip in the last couple of years but with new head coach Willie Taggert, the Bulls will get things turned around. USF has all the same advantages as UCF except for the on-campus stadium. But if you have to play off-campus, Raymond James Stadium is hard to top.

5. Louisiana-Lafayette– Yes they have no direction in their name, but they did not too many years ago. The Ragin Cajuns have won two straight New Orleans Bowl games. That cannot be a coincidence. Last season, they nearly shocked Florida in the Swamp in Gainesville, losing a heart-breaker on the last play of the game, a blocked punt return for a touchdown. Like these other schools, they are in a high school football hotbed. they also play in nice weather all season. Watch out for these guys.

We left out Boise State because, well, they just aren’t a surprise anymore.

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