BCS Analysis - Kent State? Really?!

Yup. We all know who's up top, but check out the possible curveball.

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Now we know who's going to play for the BCS championship.

Notre Dame has locked up a spot in Miami after finishing 12-0 with the win at USC, and the Irish will play the winner of Saturday's SEC championship game between Alabama and Georgia.

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That's the easy part. What about the at-large bids and the rest of the BCS?

Here's what we know: The winner of the ACC championship game between Florida State and Georgia Tech will go to the Orange Bowl. The winner of the Big Ten championship game between Nebraska and Wisconsin will go to the Rose Bowl to face the Pac-12 championship game winner between UCLA and Stanford. That's cut-and-dry; win and you're in, lose and you're out, with the possible but unlikely exception of Florida State.

The Big East is a bit harder, but it'll either be Rutgers or Louisville — the two play this Thursday, and it's the same deal as the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 with the loser out of the picture.

The Big 12 is the wild card. Kansas State will go to the Fiesta Bowl with a win over Texas or an Oklahoma loss to TCU, and the Sooners will go with a win and a K-State loss. The question, though, is whether the Big 12 will get two teams in. If Oklahoma wins, it'll almost certainly get an at-large BCS bid — most likely to the Sugar Bowl.

That leaves three at-large bids needing to be filled. 11-1 and No. 4 Florida will get the SEC's second spot, almost certainly going to the Sugar Bowl, and No. 5 Oregon, also 11-1 is a certainty for a second Pac-12 bid, likely going to the Fiesta.

Oklahoma has an invite for the taking, but if it loses to TCU, the door will be open for No. 14 Clemson to possibly get a bid, likely to the Sugar Bowl. However, after getting walloped by West Virginia in the Orange Bowl last season and crashing with a thud against South Carolina to end this regular season, the bloom is off the rose.

There's one potential curveball left to throw into the mix — the MAC champion.

Kent State is 11-1 and, more importantly, 17th in the BCS standings. Northern Illinois is also 11-1 and is No. 21. If the winner of the MAC championship can somehow sneak into the top 16 of the rankings and finish ahead of a BCS conference champion, it would get an automatic invite. Considering the Golden Flashes' lone loss came in a blowout against Kentucky and NIU's gaffe came against Iowa, it's not like the college football world would be doing jumping jacks over seeing either one get in.

There's too much traffic ahead of NIU to get into the top 16 with a MAC title win, but sitting at 17 and with UCLA at 16, Kent State would almost certainly move up one slot with a MAC championship and a Stanford win over the Bruins. Yes, America. If Kent State beats Northern Illinois, it will probably end up facing the ACC champion in the Orange Bowl.

BCS Top 25
- Expanded BCS Rankings

1. Notre Dame
2. Alabama
3. Georgia
4. Florida
5. Oregon
6. Kansas State
7. LSU
8. Stanford
9. Texas A&M
10. South Carolina
11. Oklahoma
12. Nebraska
13. Florida State
14. Clemson
15. Oregon State
16. UCLA
17. Kent State
18. Texas
19. Michigan
20. Boise State
21. Northern Illinois
22. Northwestern
23. Oklahoma State
24. Utah State
25. San Jose State
The Basic Rules

- The top two teams play in the BCS Champ. The natural tie-ins, though, are SEC champ to the Sugar, Big Ten and Pac-12 champs to the Rose, Big 12 to the Fiesta, and ACC champ to the Orange.

- The BCS games that lose their natural tie-ins to the BCS Championship get the first selection of at-large teams. For example, the SEC champion goes to the Sugar Bowl, but if that team finishes No. 1 in the final BCS rankings, then the Sugar Bowl gets its first choice of at-large teams. After those slots are filled, the pecking order goes Fiesta, Sugar, Orange in the selection process.

- Notre Dame is in the BCS if it finishes in the top eight.

- In the computer formulas, the best and the worst rankings for each team are dropped.

- Some bowls ignore the final standings as far as the seedings and pairings.

- The champion of Conference USA, the MAC, the Mountain West, the Sun Belt, or the WAC will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if one of the teams finishes in the top 12 of the final BCS standings or if one is in the top 16 and ranked ahead of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls. However, no more than one team gets an automatic bid.

- To be eligible for an at-large bid, a team has to have won at least nine regular season games and it has to finish in the top 14.

- Since TCU went to the Rose Bowl last year, the Bowl doesn't have to take a non-AQ at-large team.

So yes, it's very, very possible that Kent State's 35-23 over Rutgers on Oct. 27 was a matchup of BCS teams.


• Florida is No. 2 among the computers and isn't likely to budge. If it finishes in the top four next week, it'll get an automatic invite.

• Is Kansas State high enough to get a BCS slot if it loses to Texas? At No. 6, it probably wouldn't drop too far out, and it would take a total clunker to likely be out of the at-large spot in place of Clemson.

• With two teams each in the standings, the MAC and WAC — with Utah State at No. 24 and San Jose State at No. 25 — have as many teams in the standings as the ACC and two more than the Big East.

• Why is Kent State so high? It's 15th among three of the computers, 18th in the Harris and 19th in the coaches' poll.

1. Notre Dame 12-0 BCS Score: 0.998

The Irish did it. By going unbeaten, they're No. 1 in both human polls, No. 1 in all the computer polls and the easy No. 1 in the BCS. Now, they're one win over Georgia or Alabama away from forever being known as the No. 1 team of 2012.

Predicted Bowl: BCS championship

2. Alabama 11-1 BCS Score: 0.924

The Tide aren't all that loved by some of the computers, ranking fifth or lower in half of them. Whatever. Beat Georgia, play Notre Dame for a third BCS championship in four years.

Predicted Bowl: BCS Championship

3. Georgia 11-1 BCS Score: 0.891

The 'Dawgs are in the dream position. While No. 4 Florida is close, all that matters is beating Alabama in the SEC championship game. If that happens, Georgia will be up to No. 2 in the human polls and off to Miami for the first showdown against Notre Dame since Herschel Walker led the way to the 1981 Sugar Bowl.

Predicted Bowl: Capital One

4. Florida 11-1 BCS Score: 0.888

The Gators didn't get the break they needed. Had USC beaten Notre Dame, Florida would've been No. 3 and in the position to play for it all after the SEC championship game. Instead, it'll have to settle for an at-large BCS bid.

Predicted Bowl: Sugar

5. Oregon 11-1 BCS Score: 0.863

One close overtime loss was enough to ruin everything. No Pac-12 North title, no Pac-12 title, no national championship. Had the Ducks gotten past Stanford, they'd be hosting UCLA this weekend with the national title still on the table. Now the Ducks have to kick back and enjoy an at-large bid thanks to the computers that have them fifth and Florida second.

Predicted Bowl: Fiesta

6. Kansas State 10-1 BCS Score: 0.774

Well back in the pack, it would've taken a perfect storm of losses to get the Wildcats back up in the national title chase. Instead, it might be Big 12 title or bust with Clemson lurking to take an at-large spot. The Wildcats are sixth in the Harris poll and among the computers, and seventh by the coaches.

Predicted Bowl: Fiesta

7. LSU 10-2 BCS Score: 0.736

The Tigers needed Florida to lose to Florida State to be in the mix for an at-large BCS spot, but now they're lumped in with the glut of strong SEC teams for the various bowls.

Predicted Bowl: Outback

8. Stanford 10-2 BCS Score: 0.730

With Oregon up at No. 5, the Cardinal must beat UCLA to go to the Rose Bowl or else they're out of the BCS pack. Tied for sixth among the computers, all the wires like them with no ranking lower than seven and Colley Matrix giving Stanford the No. 3 spot.

Predicted Bowl: Rose

9. Texas A&M 10-2 BCS Score: 0.686

There are too many SEC teams in the mix to get a BCS bid, but the Aggies might have to take comfort in being, maybe, the only team to beat Alabama this season. Interestingly enough, even with the win over the Tide, A&M is 11th among the computers and isn't higher than 10th by any of them.

Predicted Bowl: Cotton

10. South Carolina 10-2 BCS Score: 0.669

The Gamecocks have had a great season and are as high as fifth among the computers. Unfortunately, they've been reasonably out of the BCS mix for several weeks, but after the win over Clemson, being in the top 10 isn't bad.

Predicted Bowl: Outback

11. Oklahoma (9-2) .613
12. Nebraska (10-2) .539
13. Florida State (10-2) .465
14. Clemson (10-2) .457
15. Oregon State (8-3) .379
16. UCLA (9-3) .330
17. Kent State (11-1) .251
18. Texas (8-3) .249
19. Michigan (8-4) .209
20. Boise State (9-2) .203
21. Northern Illinois (11-1) .194
22. Northwestern (9-3) .187
23. Oklahoma State (7-4) .165
24. Utah State (10-2) .117
25. San Jose State (10-2) .097

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