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November 30, 2012
Historic night for the MAC
The Mid-American Conference usually doesn't get a chance to make waves nationally once October passes. Once the games against the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, and other major conferences mostly end, the MAC toils away in obscurity as the conference season plays out.
Of course, to the fans of this mid-major Midwestern league, the MAC Championship is the ultimate goal.
Or is it?
Tonight, two teams with 11-1 records and big-time talent will take the field with the national spotlight squarely on Detroit. Why? Because the winner might just get a bid to the Bowl Championship Series, something that nobody thought possible just four months ago.
Sure, Kent State-Northern Illinois isn't the biggest event of the year. In fact, in the grand scheme of the sports landscape, it's more of a blip, a curiosity.
For the MAC, though, this is an opportunity to showcase itself that comes along, well, they hope more than once in a lifetime.
It's also something that keeps interest far beyond where it normally would have waned for MAC fans outside of Kent and DeKalb. Certainly many Western Michigan fans will be tuning in despite their season ending at an unceremonious 4-8.
What will this do for the league in the long-term? That remains to be seen. It's entirely possible that Northern Illinois will win tonight and not jump from 21st to 16th in order to secure a BCS bid. Heck, if some conspiracy theorists are to be believed, Kent State may win and still be left out, even sitting at 17th.
Missing out on the BCS would certainly be an anticlimactic end to the hype leading up to tonight's MAC Championship. It wouldn't be shocking to see the voters keep the winner out; certainly there's skepticism among many old-timers in the college football world about the viability of the conference around the country.
Right now, though, it doesn't matter. This is a momentous occasion no matter how the BCS standings shake out. Presumably this game will shatter MAC television records, with actual, tangible hype surrounding the two teams.
Worry about the Orange Bowl later. For now, let's enjoy the show.
BroncoBlitz.com staff members submitted their final predictions for tonight's game, with three agreeing that Northern Illinois prevails in a close one, and one taking KSU for the likely BCS bid.
Brandon Fitzsimons: Kent State 27, NIU 20
Brian Persky: NIU 27, Kent State 24
David James: NIU 34, Kent State 28
D.J. Duckett: NIU 42, Kent State 38
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