The chances of Kent State earning a BCS bowl bid are very real.
The Golden Flashes are No. 17 in the BCS rankings this week, in advance of their Friday night MAC Championship Game vs. No. 21 Northern Illinois. Both teams are 11-1.
Per BCS qualification rules, the highest-ranked team from a non-BCS conference earns automatic qualification if it finishes in the top 16 and a conference champion from a BCS conference finishes lower than 16th.
That will be the case with the Big East’s BCS entry, so the door is open.
Theoretically and realistically, the BCS door could be open for Kent State, Northern Illinois and No. 20 Boise State. The current No. 16 team, UCLA, plays late Friday night vs. Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Northern Illinois is rightly the favorite in Friday night’s game at Ford Field, but both teams are obviously on a roll. Word came from the MAC office Monday morning that the Orange Bowl is sending representatives to the MAC Championship Game.
“I leave (the bowl stuff) for the experts to decide,” Kent State coach Darrell Hazell said. “We’ll worry about where we go bowl-wise after Friday night.”
What makes this remarkable story even more remarkable is that Kent State hasn’t played in a bowl game since 1972 and hadn’t had a winning season since 2001.
The MAC has bowl tie-ins with the Little Caesar’s Bowl in Detroit, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise and the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Kent State and Northern Illinois are also candidates for the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C., the St. Petersburg Bowl and the Heart of Dallas Bowl as well.
The winning team Friday will raise a trophy, then do some serious scoreboard watching. The MAC has never had a team play in a BCS bowl game.