The bowl picture has cleared up slightly - though it still doesn't look good for Kansas University's football team.
One of the two at-large bids floating around was gobbled up Tuesday, as Northern Illinois accepted an invitation to the Poinsettia Bowl.
The Huskies will play TCU on Dec. 19 in San Diego.
With that decided, there are only two more options for KU if it wants to get a bowl bid. One is to beat out Oklahoma State for one of eight Big 12 Conference tie-ins. The other is to hope Saturday's games play out so that the Motor City Bowl - the only bowl to have an at-large bid unaccounted for - is free to pick Kansas if it chooses.
Motor City Bowl executive director Ken Hoffman said Tuesday "there's no question" that Kansas is being considered for his game, which is played Dec. 26 at Ford Field in Detroit.
But, he added, a lot has to play out before matrimony even can be considered.
At 6-6, KU is at a disadvantage compared to 7-5 teams. The Big 12's seven-win teams - there are seven of them - must be taken care of before 6-6 teams (Kansas and Oklahoma St.) can be considered. It's believed that Oklahoma State will join the Big 12's winning teams in getting a conference bowl invitation.
That would make the Motor City Bowl the last option for KU. However, the 7-5 rule applies to at-large bids as well, meaning any 7-5 team with no conference-affiliated bowl invitation moves to the front of the at-large line.
Right now, there are none. But two Sun Belt Conference teams - Troy and Louisiana-Lafayette - are 6-5 and shooting for victory No. 7 this weekend. Both are favored to win their games.
If they both lose, Middle Tennessee State would be the lone 7-5 team in the Sun Belt and would get the conference's only bowl invite, to the New Orleans Bowl. That would leave the Motor City Bowl free to choose any uninvited 6-6 team it wants.
"It's not exactly a huge pool," Hoffman said, "but it's a good pool."
The major candidates likely would be Kansas, Pittsburgh, Washington State and Arizona out of BCS conferences. Alabama also would be available, but only if the SEC doesn't get two BCS bowl bids.
Geographically, Kansas and Pittsburgh would have an edge, and Hoffman admitted that's being taken into consideration.
"It's an important factor," Hoffman said. "It's certainly not the determining factor.
"I think bowl games in general, other than the real big games, are regional games with national exposure. That's what allows you to get a good contingent from the two cities."
The Motor City Bowl had an at-large bid surface when the Big Ten didn't have a team available to play in the game, since both Ohio State and Michigan will play in BCS bowls.
The bowl's other invitation was accepted Tuesday by Central Michigan, marking the first time the 10-year old bowl will have an in-state team.
"It's a cause for celebration here," Hoffman said.
Coincidentally, Central Michigan and Kansas are scheduled to kick off the 2007 season with a nonconference game Sept. 1 in Lawrence.
If either Troy or Louisiana-Lafayette wins as expected, Kansas can't be considered for the Motor City Bowl. But if Saturday plays out in KU's favor, the Jayhawks likely will be on the short list for the one remaining at-large bid.
"Kansas is a Big 12 team," Hoffman said. "It's BCS. It's a big-time program."