Monday, November 26, 2012

Will Kent State Crash BCS Party?

Should a team that got blown out by Kentucky get a BCS bowl berth?

That's the burning question - not who's No. 1 or No. 2 - from the latest BCS standings. Kent State is on the precipice of becoming the first MAC team to land a BCS bid. At No. 17, the Golden Flashes need to move up just one spot in next week's final standings to secure a huge payday for their conference.
But should they get a spot? Does a team that accounted for Kentucky's only victory over an FBS team this season be playing in the Orange Bowl in Miami?

That's right, the Wildcats went 2-10 this season, which was good enough to get their coach fired. They beat FCS Samford in their penultimate game before getting pummeled by coachless-Tennessee in the season finale. But UK didn't just beat, but routed Kent State, 47-14, in the second game of the season.
But ah, when has "deserve" ever meant anything in the history of the BCS?

The fact is, Kent State is 11-1 and will be facing 11-1 Northern Illinois in the MAC championship game next Friday. With a victory, and a little help, the Golden Flashes could snag the final BCS bowl slot, as the other nine berths are already spoken for - six conference champions plus Notre Dame, Florida and Oregon will all go BCS bowling.

On paper, it looks as if Kent State just needs a UCLA loss in the Pac-12 championship game (and of course, winning the MAC championship) to accomplish the goal. That might be the one and only path the Golden Flashes have to the top 16. Losses by either Nebraska in the Big Ten title game to Wisconsin or a shocking upset loss by Florida State to Georgia Tech in the ACC title game might not be enough to help Kent State to move up that single spot.

This also means that neither Boise State nor Northern Illinois has a realistic chance of rising into the top 16. While the Huskies can beat Kent State in the MAC title game, their current spot at No. 21 in the BCS standings makes it about a bridge too far for them to close that gap. The same goes for Boise State, at No. 20 and facing 7-4 Nevada in the season finale, the Broncos simply have no chance of making up four spots.

By the time the MAC championship game takes place, we should already know which team would represent the Big East in the BCS. Rutgers hosts Louisville on Thursday in what essentially will be the conference title game. Rutgers can win the Big East outright with a victory, while a tiebreaker featuring the BCS standings will be applied in the event of a Louisville victory.

In the complete BCS standings, you'll find Louisville at No. 26 and Rutgers at No. 27 (and Cincinnati at No. 36 and Syracuse at No. 43), just outside the official top 25. It's certain that if Louisville wins the game, the Cardinals will represent the Big East because they'll be the only conference team to land in the top 25 in the final BCS standings.


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