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2012 MAC Championship Game to feature Kent State, Northern Illinois

The Flashes and Huskies will clash for the conference championship.

Kirk Irwin

Both the Kent State Golden Flashes and Northern Illinois Huskies clinched division titles with weeks remaining in the regular season, and they'll finally get to decide the MAC championship when they take the field in Detroit on Friday at 7 p.m. The Huskies -- who have appeared in the game in the last two seasons -- enter as the defending conference champions after defeating the Ohio Bobcats last season.

There are also notable national implications to Friday's game for the first time since the BCS' inception. Kent State will come into the game ranked No. 17 in the BCS standings, one spot away from the guaranteed berth given to mid-major teams that finish in the Top 16. A win over the Huskies -- who are No. 21 in the BCS standings -- could very well vault the Flashes into the BCS, though it's not a guarantee: one spot ahead of them is the UCLA Bruins, who play on Saturday vs. the Stanford Cardinal.

A MAC championship would no doubt be a huge step for a Kent State program that has never even played in the conference title game, but bigger things are potentially on the horizon.