By Saturday night, the six Bowl Championship Series spots that go to conference champions will be determined, leaving two at-large openings...

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By Saturday night, the six Bowl Championship Series spots that go to conference champions will be determined, leaving two at-large openings. Those positions will be announced Sunday on the BCS selection show. The final BCS standings also will be revealed at that time.


Going into Saturday, three spots are secured: USC (Pac-10), West Virginia (Big East) and Penn State (Big Ten). Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast and Big 12 teams will be decided in title games.


Should the BCS standings stay as they are with USC and Texas at the top, those teams will play in the BCS title game Jan. 4 in the Rose Bowl. The other bowls have anchor teams: SEC in the Sugar, ACC in the Orange and Big 12 in the Fiesta. A selection process will fill out the matchups from other automatic bids and an at-large pool.


Besides the six teams playing in conference title games, the BCS said six teams remain in the pool for the two at-large berths: Auburn, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon and UCLA.


The process:


• The Fiesta gets the first pick because, as the standings are now, it would lose its anchor team in Texas.


• The Orange picks next based on a predetermined selection order. It already has the ACC champion, so its pick would complete the pairing.


• The Fiesta picks again because of the predetermined order, and that would fill its game.


• The Sugar already has the SEC champ and would either have the last remaining automatic qualifier or an at-large team.


Thursday’s game


Akron 31, Northern Illinois 30


In Detroit, Luke Getsy threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Domenik Hixon with 10 seconds left to give the Zips a victory over the Huskies in the Mid-American Conference championship game at Ford Field.


Akron (7-5) prevailed despite yielding 270 yards rushing and two touchdowns to Northern Illinois tailback Garrett Wolfe. The Zips earned the first title in school history and a berth in the Motor City Bowl.


Akron’s winning drive started on its 19 with 1:41 left and no timeouts. The Huskies finished 7-5.


The Zips had never won a football title in any conference, dating to joining the Ohio Athletic Conference in 1915.


Notes


• North Carolina offensive coordinator Gary Tranquill, 65, is retiring after five seasons, ending a college coaching career that spanned four decades.


• Linebackers A.J. Hawk of Ohio State and DeMeco Ryans of Alabama and end Darryl Tapp of Virginia Tech were selected as finalists for the Lott Trophy, presented to college football’s defensive player of the year.


• Arkansas suspended guard Fred Bledsoe and defensive end Michael Tate for violating team rules.


• Virginia offensive coordinator Ron Prince has emerged as a leading candidate to be the next coach at Kansas State. Former Wildcats assistant Phil Bennett also is among the top candidates to replace the retired Bill Snyder.