Through all the broken records and thrills of an 11-1 season, Kent State might have a chance to take another giant step forward in program history.
Kent State is ranked No. 17 in the latest BCS standings, released Sunday night. Per BCS selection rules, a mid-major school can earn an automatic BCS bowl bid in two ways: 1. If such team is a conference champion and ranked inside the top-12 of the final BCS standings or 2. If such team is a conference champion, ranked inside the top-16 of the final BCS standings and ahead of the conference champion from one of the conferences that earn an automatic bid every year, such as the Big Ten or the Big East.
That latter part will be satisfied, as no Big East team is ranked inside the top-25, including the two teams that will play for the Big East title, Louisville and Connecticut. Also, should Wisconsin beat No. 12 Nebraska, the Badgers wouldn't be ranked ahead of Kent State.
What this all boils down to is this: Kent State beats Northern Illinois Friday night, and there's a small chance they're qualified on that basis alone. However, it most likely isn't that simple and the Flashes will probably need help from one or more of the schools ahead of them.
One way could be No. 8 Stanford, which plays No. 16 UCLA for the Pac-12 title. Stanford just beat the Bruins 35-17 on Saturday.
KSU won't get help from No. 15 Oregon State, which is playing 1-9 Nicholls St. And No. 14 Clemson is done.
No. 13 Florida State plays Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship Game and No. 12 Nebraska might need a win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game to not drop below the magical No. 16.
One potential problem for Kent State could be Texas. The Longhorns are ranked No. 18 and play No. 6 Kansas State. Texas could leapfrog the Flashes should they upset K-State and add another slot that needs to be made up to qualify for the automatic bid.
After all the automatic BCS bowl bids have been satisfied with respect to which conferences go to which bowls (assuming that bowl's first choice isn't in the BCS national championship game), each bowl then chooses the next option out of the qualifying teams. Should Kent State earn an automatic bid, it will most likely go to the Orange Bowl, played just outside of Miami, Fla.
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