It was a bitter-sweet ending to a dream season for the Kent State Golden Flashes football team this weekend.
With a chance at the BCS Orange Bowl, (12-1, 8-0) on Friday night 44-37 in the MAC Championship game.
After the dust settled and the bowl games were selected, Northern Illinois will face Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
But Kent State will have its first bowl game in 40 years as they star in the GoDaddy.com Bowl facing the Arkansas State Red Wolves.
Arkansas State (9-3, 7-1) was the Sun Belt Conference champion this season.
"The players and coaches in our locker room have made this entire season special," Kent State Head Coach Darrell Hazell said after Friday's MAC Championship.
The season finale will be on Sunday, Jan. 6 at 9 p.m. in Mobile, Alabama. That game will air on ESPN.
For complete travel packages (tickets, flight, hotel and more), visit www.KentStateSportsTravel.com. Single-game tickets go on sale Tuesday, Dec. 4, at noon. Call 330-672-2244. Stay tuned to the AMETEK Bowl Game Central page for more information.
Athletic Director Joel Nielson said this is an exciting time for the entire Kent State community.
"Bowl games are seen as that reward for having an outstanding year, those who put their heart and soul into building a program," Nielson said.
Under Hazell the Flashes finished 11-2 this season, going undefeated in MAC play, earning the MAC East title and getting its highest ranking ever in the BCS era.
Kent State was ranked No. 25, dropping eight spots, in the BCS rankings on Sunday.
"The character of this team has been amazing all season long," Hazell said.
Kent State's character was evident in the fourth quarter of Friday's game.
A defense that was unable to stop Huskies' quarterback Jordan Lynch all game, forced a fumble for a touchdown, tying the game at 27 all.
The Huskies answered with another touchdown by Lynch, but the Flashes offense rallied, driving down the field in the final minutes, capping it off with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Spencer Keith to Tim Erjavec.
Both teams traded field goals in the first overtime period but Lynch's two-yard touchdown run went unmatched by Kent State in the final overtime.
Even after such a tough loss, Hazell and the Flashes could hold their heads up on a fantastic season that isn't over yet.
"It's a very, very tight locker room," Hazell said. "I can't put into words how proud I am of this football team and the organization."
"I know these young guys will get jacked up again when practice rolls around and they get ready for the game in January," Nielson said.
The university will get a payout from the conference for its selection in a bowl game.
Nielson said he expects to know in the next few weeks just how much Kent State will receive from the conference to assist with travel and other payouts.
As excited as the Kent State community is about going "bowling" in January, there is some coaching drama.
The Akron Beacon Journal reported that Hazell was interviewing with California for a coaching position on Sunday.
“My focus is on this Kent State football team like it always has been,” Hazell told the Akron Beacon Journal.