Just when we thought it was safe to project bowl games, this week's BCS ratings show Kent State at No. 17, right behind UCLA.
Kent State -- vanquishers of Rutgers, tested by the 106th-rated schedule, losers to Kentucky by 33 -- would qualify for the BCS if it moves up one spot and finishes ahead of a champion from an AQ conference. It would appear they would certainly be ahead of the Big East champion, which, ironically, may be Rutgers.
The Golden Flashes have to beat Northern Illinois in the MAC title game to have a shot. Then, they need help.
UCLA will be playing in the Pac-12 title game at Stanford, which just throttled the Bruins in LA on Saturday. UCLA would have to lose to the Cardinal again to create an opening for KSU.
They might also need help from behind. Texas is ranked 18th and would jump Kent State with a win over Kansas State.
I don't think they have to worry about No. 20 Boise State going by them if the Broncos beat Nevada. Boise also can't get up to 16th themselves if KSU loses.
Which brings us to Northern Illinois, Kent State's opponent this week. The Huskies are 21st, but if they beat Kent State, I can't see them getting enough juice in the rankings to get to 16th.
Just to be clear -- the best case scenario in terms of results doesn't guarantee Kent State moves up. It just gives them a chance.
This is assuming traditional voting patterns. If voters get spooked at the idea of Kent State in the BCS, they could slide.
If Kent State gets in, it will easily be the least quaified BCS team ever. The Flashes would also be the first non-major to qualify with a loss (did I mention that loss was a 33-point beating from Kentucky?). But they might be a win away from being a punching bag -- albeit a well-paid one -- for Florida State. They don't make enough mojitos to console Orange Bowl execs pondering this possibility.