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Kent State's Spencer Keith throws a pass against Ohio during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game, Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, in Kent, Ohio. Kent State won 28-6. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
College Football: How Kent State could end up in a BCS bowl game
Commentary » Flashes are one spot away from the all-important No. 16 BCS ranking
First Published Nov 27 2012 11:39 am • Last Updated Nov 27 2012 11:33 pm

Be honest, now.

When Kent State knocked off Rutgers by two touchdowns last month, did you know that game was a battle of potential BCS powers? Believe it.

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Rutgers is one win Thursday night away from the Big East title and a trip to the Orange Bowl, as is Louisville. But it was the losses by Rutgers and Louisville last week that have caused an even bigger potential embarrassment for the BCS.

Before those eggs were laid, Rutgers and Louisville were both comfortably ahead of Kent State in the BCS standings, and with Louisiana Tech dropping its last two games, it looked like what we call the "Orrin Hatch Disaster Scenario" was averted.

(History lesson: Sen. Hatch led a charge by the small schools and the Federal government to sue the BCS after unbeaten Utah was left out of the championship game in 2004 and 2008. Because of this, the BCS added two quirky rules.

Quirky rule No. 1: Any conference champion from one of the so-called non-AQ leagues that finishes in the top 12 automatically gets into a BCS bowl. See Hawaii, 2007 along with Boise State and TCU, multiple times.

Quirky rule No. 2: Any non-AQ conference champion that finishes in the top 16 AND finishes ahead of a champion from one of the big six gets into a BCS bowl.)

It’s that last one that has never come into play — and probably never should — before now. Thanks a lot, Big East.

When the BCS standings reshuffled this week, Kent State found itself at No. 17, one spot from the promised land.

Sitting in front of the Flashes? UCLA, which has to face Stanford again this week after getting rocked by the Cardinal a few days ago.


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Kent State has its own business to finish with Northern Illinois on Friday night in the MAC championship game.

Interestingly enough, Kent is ranked four spots higher than Northern Illinois, almost entirely due to computer rankings.

You guessed it. Beating Rutgers must have done it for them.

(Side note: It is strange that getting housed by 2-10 Kentucky in September did not hurt the Flashes more. Northern Illinois’ one loss was a one-point loss to Iowa in August.)

If Kent State wins, only a UCLA upset of Stanford could prevent the Flashes from ascending to the top 16. Even at that, if Georgia Tech or Wisconsin pull stunners in their title games over Florida State or Wisconsin, respectively, the damage could still be done. Northern Illinois is not completely out of the BCS picture, either. Sitting at No. 21, a Huskies win would certainly vault them past Kent State and possibly a slipping UCLA squad. If Texas falls to Kansas State and Boise State falls to Nevada, the Huskies would need to find a way to pass idle Michigan or hope for another title game stunner. Got all that?

Let’s not gloss over Boise, by the way. If the Broncos can win and squeeze into the top 16, they could get back into play as well.

But right now, Kent State is holding all the keys to the golden palace. If the Flashes win, they have a strong chance at the Sugar Bowl.

The way it would play out, the SEC champ and Notre Dame would go to the title game, while the ACC champ and the Big East champ would be the South Beach undercard in the Orange Bowl.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 champs would go the Rose Bowl, and the Fiesta will be left with the erstwhile title matchup before recent meltdowns - Kansas State vs. Oregon.

That leaves the Sugar Bowl and soon-to-be No. 3-ranked Florida, which gets to go to the prom with the ugliest girl in school.

So thanks to the distinguished gentleman from Utah, the Gators’ reward for going 11-1 against the nation’s toughest schedule and falling one spot short of the title game is a date with Kent State.

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