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November 27, 2012

Shinn at 3 p.m.: Kent State could stymie OU's bowl hopes

NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops’ first full-time coaching job was as an assistant coach at Kent State in 1988. That doesn’t mean he’s kept up with the Golden Flashes much since.

He didn’t even know they could be the team that keeps OU from playing in a BCS bowl game.

Kent  State is currently 11-1 and No. 17 in the BCS standings. With a victory on Friday over No. 21 Northern Illinois in the MAC championship game, the Golden Flashes would likely move up at least one spot in the standings and receive an automatic BCS bowl berth.

That would be bad news for the Sooners.

There’s four spots in the four BCS bowls and national championship games for non-league champions from BCS leagues.

Notre Dame has a spot locked up for the title game. No. 4 Florida and No. 5 Oregon appear to be locks as well. If the season ended last Saturday, No. 11 OU would get that other spot. No conference can have more than two teams in BCS bowl games.

 But there’s a loophole that Kent State has positioned itself to hop through. If a team from a non-BCS conference is ranked 16th or higher, won its conference and is ranked higher than a team that will receive an automatic bid, then it jumps to the head of the list. 

The Big East Conference, which will lose its status as a BCS league in 2014, doesn’t have a Top 25 team. 

Stoops admitted on Monday he hasn't been keeping up with the BCS implications.

“Oh, really? I haven’t followed Kent State, so I don’t know,” he said. “All I know is we have a big game to play, so that’s what I’m working on.” 

The Sooners do have a big game at TCU on Saturday. Winning it would give them a share of the Big 12 championship. However, Kansas State would receive the automatic berth to the Fiesta Bowl if it beats Texas on Saturday because it beat OU this season. 

Bottom line  is: OU has to win on Saturday to get a BCS bowl invite. But seeing Kent State fall to Northern Illinois on Friday is another piece of the puzzle OU needs to fall into place.

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