Let’s go bowling


Graphic by Karen Holcomb

Tim Dorst

The last bowl game the Kent State football team appeared was the Tangerine Bowl in 1972. Led by head coach Don James, the Flashes won their only Mid-American Conference championship with a team that included NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Lambert and current University of Alabama coach Nick Saban.

The Flashes took on the University of Tampa Spartans in the Tangerine Bowl, falling just short with a 21-18 loss. A trip to the postseason has been unreachable for Kent State ever since.

The 2012 Flashes are about to finally break the 40-year bowl drought, and the result could be bigger than many might expect. Kent State, who ranked No. 17 in this week’s Bowl Championship Series poll, could find itself receiving a bid to play in one of the four BCS bowl games.

There are a few different scenarios regarding which bowl game the Flashes will appear in at the end of this season, one of which depends on a number of different factors.

Discover Orange Bowl

8:30 p.m. Jan. 1

Miami, Fla.

Kent State could potentially move into the Top 16 of the BCS standings with a win over Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game Friday. This would put the Flashes in line to receive a bid to the Orange Bowl. However, two teams could stand in their way: No. 16 UCLA and No. 18 Texas. The Flashes will need losses from both of those teams in order to move up to No. 16 or higher and receive the BCS nod. In this case, they would face the winner of the ACC Conference Championship game between Florida State and Georgia Tech.

The UCLA Bruins will take on No. 8 Stanford Friday, a team that beat the Bruins 35-17 this past weekend, and Texas will be on the road Saturday against No. 6 Kansas State.

GoDaddy.com Bowl

9 p.m. Jan. 6

Mobile, Ala.

If the Flashes win the MAC Championship and don’t end up with the Orange Bowl bid, they will likely appear in the GoDaddy.com Bowl taking place in early 2013. Formerly known as the GMAC Bowl, the game has hosted the winner of the MAC title game for the past three seasons, so Kent State would need a win over NIU this Friday to ensure a potential spot in the game.

The Flashes would take on a team from the Sun Belt Conference, which is likely to be either Arkansas State or Middle Tennessee State.

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl

7:30 p.m. Dec. 26

Detroit, Mi.

Even with a loss to NIU Friday, the Flashes would still qualify for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl taking place in the same location as the MAC Championship game. This bowl game is one of three that a MAC team is guaranteed to go. While the officials who schedule the game have the first choice with selecting a MAC team, they are not required to select the conference champion, and, in fact, haven’t picked the champion in the past few seasons. The possibility of playing in the Pizza Bowl will be open for Kent State, win or lose.

A Big Ten Conference team usually gets the other spot in the game, but that spot is slated to go to either a Sun Belt team or a Western Athletic Conference team this season. Arkansas State, Middle Tennessee State and San Jose State are all possibilities for the Flashes if they are picked for this bowl.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

4:30 p.m. Dec. 15

Boise, Idaho

The third bowl game with an automatic MAC bid is the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, played on the famous blue turf of Bronco Stadium at Boise State University. This game, which has featured a MAC team since 2009, has never included the MAC Champion, and only on one occasion has the runner-up in the MAC played here (NIU, 2010). However, there is still the potential for the Flashes to play in this game if they are unsuccessful in defeating NIU on Friday.

If selected for this game, Kent State would take on Utah State.

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].