Those of you who would like to root for BCS chaos have a new favorite team: the Kent State Golden Flashes.
The alma mater of Josh Cribbs boasts an 11-1 record, including a 35-23 win at Rutgers, and is ranked 17th in the BCS standings. Now, to review the non-AQ rules very simply, the highest ranked member of a mid-major conference will receive an automatic bid to a BCS bowl if:
(1) it is ranked in the top 12 teams in the country, according to the final BCS standings; or
(2) it is ranked in the top 16 teams in the country and ranked higher than the champion of any AQ conference, according to the final BCS standings.
I repeat, Kent State is ranked 17th. None of the three remaining contenders for the Big East championship--Rutgers, Louisville, and Syracuse--is ranked in the BCS Top 25 and it is unlikely that they would jump into the top 16 or higher. Furthermore, in the unlikely event Wisconsin upset Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship Game, the Badgers would likely remain outside the top 16. Here's where it gets interesting, though. Kent State is ranked directly behind #16 UCLA in the BCS standings, who have a follow-up date with #8 Stanford--which, frankly, they are likely to lose. Were UCLA to win, Oregon State, ranked #15, is idle in front of Kent State and could potentially be jumped.
Kent State will play #21 Northern Illinois (11-1) in the MAC Championship Game on Friday night. Northern Illinois is a solid team and is no walkover for the Flashes. They also have an outside shot at jumping into BCS autobid contention as does #20 Boise State (9-2), who play at Nevada this weekend. In any case, Kent State clearly represents the best shot at this point in time. If you're rooting for chaos or hoping to see a lot of mewing from the loser of the SEC Championship Game (or Florida)--because the rules prevent the BCS from selecting a third team from a single conference and because they might end up mandating that a team from the Mid-American Conference go--you should probably cheer for Darrell Hazell's Kent State team.
Hazell was previously the assistant head coach and wide receivers coach at Ohio State through 2010. Many believed if he had not accepted the head coaching position at Kent State prior to Jim Tressel's firing, he would have been offered the interim job ahead of Luke Fickell at Ohio State for the 2011 season.