There's been a lot of discussion about how the SEC will get jobbed by the system because they'll only have two teams in the BCS bowls this season—one in the BCS Championship game and one in the Sugar Bowl.
Cry me a river.
The loser of the SEC Championship game (either No. 2 Alabama or No. 3 Georgia) will get leapfrogged by No. 4, Florida who will play in the Sugar Bowl while the winner will play Notre Dame in the BCS Championship game. Not a bad deal for the SEC.
The Big 12, however, has a problem on its hands and its name is the Kent State Golden Flashes.
Simply put, if No. 17 Kent State beats Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game, there is a good possibility that it will move up to that magic No. 16 spot which guarantees Kent State a berth in a BCS bowl.
That scenario also means a possible at-large team, like No. 11 Oklahoma, is no longer in the BCS equation since No. 5 Oregon, another at-large team, will surely get picked up by the Fiesta Bowl to play the Big 12 champion.
The BCS selection order this year is Fiesta-Sugar-Orange and Fiesta Bowl officials will take Oregon over a Kent State or Big East champion. The Sugar Bowl has Florida vs. an at-large/Big East champion and the Orange Bowl has the ACC Championship game winner vs. an at-large/Big East champion.
The Big East champion has to go somewhere; it's either the Sugar or Orange since the Rose Bowl will have the Pac-12 champion vs the Big Ten champion. That leaves one spot open for an at-large and that spot would go to Kent State, provided the Golden Flashes win the MAC and move up to No. 16.
For Oklahoma to cinch a Fiesta Bowl berth—and another trip to the desert—No. 6 Kansas State has to lose to Texas and the Sooners have to beat TCU because the Sooners would only have one conference loss vs. Kansas State having two. If Kansas State loses and Oklahoma wins, Kansas State is now on the outside looking in.
Bottom line is that one Big 12 team is going to be shut out of the BCS Bowls if Kent State wins the MAC and moves up a spot in the BCS standings. If Kent State loses, then the Sugar Bowl is projected to take the runner-up in the Big 12 (either Oklahoma or Kansas State) and the Orange Bowl will take the Big East champion.
Assuming Oklahoma beats TCU, Kansas State beats Texas and Kent State wins the MAC, should a 12-1 Kent State get a BCS bowl invite over a 10-2 Oklahoma? The latest Sagarin ratings don't suggest that at all.
Sagarin (with ELO_Chess adjustments) has Oklahoma ranked No. 11 with a No. 11 strength of schedule (SOS) while it has Kent State at No. 37 with a No. 122 SOS.
Out of 124 FBS schedules, Kent State has the third easiest schedule of the 2012 season yet lost 47-14 to Kentucky, a 2-10 team whose only wins this season came against Towson (FCS team) and Kent State.
But before Sooner fans—and Kansas State fans if the Wildcats drop their game against Texas—vent their frustrations at Kent State (remember that it could still lose in the MAC Championship), perhaps they should consider this: As of now, no Big East team is ranked in the BCS standings (Top 25) but the Big East champion gets an automatic berth to a BCS Bowl.
The system of guaranteed BCS bowl berths is once again rearing its ugly head and this year, it looks like the Big 12—one of the toughest conferences this year—could be its patsy.