Big 12 football: We are, Kent State
We like underdogs in American sport. We like them a lot. Cinderellas have made March Madness what it is. Boise State and its wild Fiesta Bowl win over OU was a great jolt of energy to college football.
But college football power brokers don’t underdogs. And now there’s an underdog that could really upset the world axis. Bob Stoops’ old employer could be a thorn in his flesh. The Kent State Golden Flashes, once one of college football’s sorriest programs, has the chance to be a BCS buster. Kent State is No. 17 in the latest BCS rankings. If Kent State beats Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference championship game on Saturday and rises into the top 16, the Golden Flashes will be in the Orange Bowl.
That’s right. The Orange Bowl. Which would take a BCS spot away from a power conference team, quite possibly Stoops’ Sooners.
Notre Dame, Florida and Oregon are virtually assured of three at-large BCS spots, leaving only one available. That one is likely to go to the Sooners, so long as OU beats TCU on Saturday and Kansas State beats Texas to win the Big 12 title outright. But Kent State would snare that berth under the BCS rule that says the highest-ranked mid-major in the top 16 gets an automatic berth if it is ranked higher than the champion of an automatic qualifying conference. With UCLA playing at Stanford on Friday night in the Pac-12 title game — a rematch of two days ago, when Stanford won 35-17 — the likelihood of Kent State reaching the top 16 is high.
Which is where the Big East comes in. The Big East is a total mess of a league — Rutgers, Louisville, Cincinnati and Syracuse could all finish in a four-way tie for the title. Rutgers wins the Big East with a win over Louisville on Thursday night. If Louisville wins, the BCS berth is determined by BCS ranking. None of the Big East teams will be in the BCS top 25, but Louisville figures to be the highest-ranked.
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