Kent State is the biggest surprise in this week’s BCS standings

Dr. Saturday

Thanks to Notre Dame, the suspense was all but taken out of Sunday's BCS standings release.

The Irish, who are No. 1 in the BCS standings, defeated USC on Saturday to lock up a spot in the BCS national championship and will play the winner of the SEC title game between No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia.

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While that's pretty clear-cut, the BCS still could offer a couple surprises before the end of the season.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the BCS standings this week might be the emergence of Kent State. The Golden Flashes are No. 17 in the BCS standings and just five spots away from earning the non-AQ automatic berth and just one spot away from moving into the coveted top 16. If the Golden Flashes finish in the top 16 and ahead of one of the champions of an automatic qualifying conference, they will get a BCS berth. No Big East team is ranked in the BCS top 25 this week. UCLA, which plays Stanford again this weekend, is currently No. 16.

This is unprecedented because this is a Kent State program that is going to its first bowl game since 1972. It won 10 games for the first time and is about to play for its first conference championship in school history. And therein lies the problem. The Golden Flashes have to get past Northern Illinois — and have several teams above it drop — to get into a position for an automatic BCS bid. This is not an easy challenge.

[Related: SEC rout of Notre Dame not a given]

If the Golden Flashes were able to sneak into the BCS, it would probably take a BCS bowl berth away from Oklahoma.

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Oklahoma could also work its way into the Fiesta Bowl by winning its conference title. The Sooners need Kansas State to lose to Texas this weekend to make that happen.

The Big East also is up in the air thanks to Rutgers' loss to Pitt and Louisville's loss to UConn. The two teams meet Thursday night in New Jersey to determine the conference's BCS bowl berth.

So while the top of the BCS is all but decided, the bottom still has a couple kinks to work out during this final week of the season, which should keep us all very interested.

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