NEW YORK (AP) -This is a busy week for Ball State fans.
On Wednesday, they have to cheer their unbeaten Cardinals against Northern Illinois.
If they get past the Huskies, then it's time to turn their attention to Thursday night's huge Mountain West Conference game between No. 10 Utah and No. 11 TCU.
On Saturday, it's time to focus on No. 9 Boise State against Utah State.
Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive calls this cross-interest, and likes to tout it as a reason why the Bowl Championship Series helps college football.
The theory goes that because of the BCS, SEC fans, for example, will have a keen interest in, say, a Big Ten game because it directly affects their team's national title hopes.
Now, cross-interest has come to the world of the BCS Busters.
The race to reach the BCS from the five leagues deemed unworthy of an automatic bid to the big-money bowls has never had so many contenders this late in a season.
heir perfect season and BCS hopes end at Arkansas.
Teams from the MWC, Western Athletic Conference, Mid-American Conference, Conference USA and the Sun Belt can earn automatic entry to the BCS by finishing in the top 12 in the final standings.
If more than one team from those leagues reaches that benchmark, only the highest rated is guaranteed a spot. The others are eligible for at-large selections, but would be wise not to get their hopes up.
It comes down to four teams from three conferences playing for one spot - and makes for some odd scoreboard watching.
So, will the participants in Thursday night's big game with BCS implications out West be keeping an eye on Wednesday's game with BCS implications in the Midwest?
``We'll watch the game just because there's nothing really else on TV in the hotel,'' TCU quarterback Andy Dalton said. ``Ball State seems to be having a pretty good year this year.''
The Horned Frogs need not worry about the Cardinals as much as the Cardinals need to concern themselves with the Frogs, Utes and Broncos.
For Ball State, 17th in the BCS standings, to have a chance at the big-time, it needs all of those teams to lose one more time - and to get through the toughest part of its own schedule unscathed.
e.
``I'll be very interested in that game because those are two good football teams,'' Broncos coach Chris Petersen said. ``One of my favorite things to do is to go home Thursday night, when we have a Saturday game, and watch whoever's playing. These are two teams that we know pretty well, and it's going to be a heck of a game. That's about the only reason that I'm excited about it.''
If the Utes win, they're probably in good shape to get back to the BCS for the second time since 2004 - if they can remain undefeated.
If TCU wins, the race gets more interesting.
No BCS Buster has ever lost a regular season game, but the Horned Frogs only defeat was at Oklahoma. Could the Frogs surpass an unbeaten Boise State and reach the BCS?
After the Utes and Frogs play each other, Utah plays San Diego State (1-8) before its very difficult rivalry game at home against BYU (8-1), which is 15th in the BCS standings and still holding the faintest of hopes for postseason glory.
TCU's only other game is at home against Air Force (7-2).
Utah State (2-7) should be easy for Boise State. Then comes two road games against Idaho (2-8) and Nevada (4-4), before the season-finale at home against Fresno State (5-3).
s season, then play at Miami of Ohio (2-6), before finishing at Central Michigan (7-2) and at home against Western Michigan (7-2) in games that will decide the league's West division title.
Got all that, Cardinals fans?
---
AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins in Fort Worth, Texas, and Associated Press Writer Keith Riddler in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.

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