BCS Bowl Bound? Kent State, Northern Illinois Could Break The Mold

  on November 30 2012 12:29 PM

It’s a foregone conclusion. With Notre Dame already in the BCS title game, Saturday’s SEC championship is pretty much meaningless. It’ll just be a contest to see what team serves as the sacrificial lamb to be slayed at the Irish’s all-powerful hands this coming January.

Alabama, Georgia … geez, how will either stand a chance? Golden Dome nation has spoken and already cleared the space for that 12th national crown in the trophy case.

Mark it down, 2012 – the race to decide college football’s top dog, it’s over.

Or so Irish fans hope, if not believe.

In all seriousness, ND supporters have been kinda reserved about pushing the above notion. If anything, they’ve shied away from it … but someone has to take the fall for any avoidance of highlighting this weekend’s matchup of the country’s second- and third-ranked teams.

Why do so? Hey, why not – it gets a little boring when the SEC leads the way seemingly every week, in terms of exposure and quality.

Thing is, the most intriguing duel on conference championship week is the one that would have most going … who … what … come again?

Yeah, yeah, neither Kent State nor Northern Illinois break into the household-name category, but whichever program prevails in tonight’s Mid-American title meeting at Ford Field in Detroit just might crack into the BCS bowl-berth bracket.

Oh, the humanity …

Under the current system’s rules, if a champion from a mid-major conference, such as the MAC, is ranked in the top 16 and ahead of a champion from an automatic-qualifying conference – ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC – in the final BCS standings.

Not for nothing, but Kent State is ranked 18th right now and North Illinois 19th. Furthermore, Louisville and Rutgers just duked it out Thursday night for Big East supremacy, and neither of them currently rate mention in the BCS standings. The Flashes are 17th in the latest BCS roll call, and the Huskies are 21st.

Both enter tonight 11-1 overall with 8-0 MAC marks. The lone blemish for Kent State was a biggie – a blowout loss at SEC lightweight Kentucky. However, it later redeemed itself somewhat, posting an impressive win at Rutgers. The Flashes boast two 1,000-yard rushers in Dri Archer and Trayion Durham.

They’re legit.

The Huskies may be even more so. Their only blight, and it was slight, occurred in Week 1 when they lost by one point to Big Ten middling Iowa. Since then, they have rolled behind the arm and legs of quarterback Jordan Lynch, whose 2,750 yards passing, 1,611 yards rushing and 39 total touchdowns for which he is responsible should earn him some Heisman mention.

If it matters, Northern Illinois won the last meeting between the two – by 30 points 13 months ago. It also will be looking to repeat as MAC champ.

The stakes are a bit higher this time, though.

In other top 25 matchups:

TONIGHT

Pac-12 Championship

No. 16 UCLA (9-3, 6-3 conference) at No. 8 Stanford (10-2, 8-1) – The Cardinal cruised by the Bruins in the team’s prior meeting … last week, in Pasadena no less. Is there are reason to think much has changed in seven days to the point where UCLA can turn the tables in Palo Alto, Calif.? Interesting to note that Stanford finds itself in the Pac-12 title game the year after Andrew Luck was QB.

SATURDAY

SEC Championship

No. 3 Georgia (11-1, 7-1 conference) vs. No. 2 Alabama (11-1, 7-1) – Statistically, the Bulldogs have the best QB in the country with Aaron Murray and they probably possess the best prospect on the Georgia Dome turf in this one, too, with Jarvis Jones, but it’s hard to go against the Nick Saban-coached Tide when things really matter.

Big 12 Championship

No. 18 Texas (8-3, 5-3 conference) at No. 6 Kansas State (10-1, 7-1) – Aside from alums, a few residents in either state, BCS bowl officials and travel agents, does anyone really care?