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Top Nine BCS Busters

The Bowl Championship Series era of college football comes to an end in January, as the BCS gets phased out (somewhat) in favor of a four-team playoff starting with the 2014 season.

While the system did indeed do what it intended to do (determine a national champion every year), it created a lot of controversy as well, especially when it came to the notion of "BCS Busters." The system made it seemingly difficult for teams outside of the six power conferences to even get into the party, let alone the National Championship Game, but in the end, there were a handful of squads from the "rest" of the FBS landscape that scratched and clawed their way in - and a few who shocked the world when they got there.

There weren't enough, however, to fill out a Niner of our favorite BCS Busters of the past, so we got a little creative in making the below list of nine…but we think you won't mind when you see how we did it.

  • NORTHERN ILLINOIS
    The Huskies were the first team to bring MACtion to the BCS, going 13-0 in 2012 en route to a Mid-American Conference title and a berth in the Orange Bowl against Florida State. They almost did it again in 2013, but a loss to Bowling Green in the MAC title game left them on the outside again.
  • HAWAI'I
    June Jones' run-and-shoot offense led the Warriors to an undefeated regular season in 2007, but unfortunately, their trip to the Sugar Bowl wasn't so sweet; Hawai'i was blasted 41-10 by SEC runner-up Georgia, who six days later watched conference-mate LSU win the BCS crown in the same building.
  • NOTRE DAME
    Even for a storied powerhouse like Notre Dame, BCS entry was never easy, but the Irish still crashed the party four times. Unfortunately for them, they never had a successful trip, as they lost a pair of Fiesta Bowls (2001 and 2006) and the 2007 Sugar Bowl before losing last year's BCS Championship Game.
  • TEXAS CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY
    TCU made back-to-back trips as an automatic non-qualifier after the 2009 and 2010 seasons, losing an epic Fiesta Bowl to fellow buster Boise State in January 2010 before rebounding to beat Wisconsin in an even more epic Rose Bowl the following New Year's Day.
  • NEBRASKA, OKLAHOMA AND ALABAMA
    How are these three long-time powerhouses "BCS Busters" you ask? Simple: all three have played in the BCS Championship Game without actually even winning their conference - and the Crimson Tide actually won it, topping LSU 21-0 in January 2012 to win their second national title in three seasons.
  • SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
    Of course, USC played in seven BCS games and never had to be a true "BCS Buster," but it's what they did in the 2003 season - win the Rose Bowl and finish atop the AP Poll to split the national title - that ushered in change in the form of an actual BCS Championship Game, so we salute that.
  • THE BIG EAST/AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
    While they've always been guaranteed entry, the Big East (and now AAC) is the only conference that never had a guaranteed bowl tie-in, meaning they were often the last kid picked in the draw. Still, Miami won them a National Title after the 2001 season, so they'll always have that.
  • BOISE STATE
    The Broncos weren't the first buster to register a win, but they might have the most memorable, a 43-42 OT win over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl that made the "Statue of Liberty" play famous. Three seasons later they did it again in Glendale, topping TCU to stay undefeated in the big derby.
  • UTAH
    The Utes get the No. 1 slot because they started the BCS Buster phenomenon when Alex Smith and Urban Meyer led them to a Sugar Bowl win over Pitt in January 2005…and four years later, they got an even bigger win in New Orleans (without both Smith and Meyer) by beating Alabama.
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