Monday, December 4, 2023

College football bowl eligibility picture. Who’s in? Who’s out? Who’s still alive

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Much of the debate about the postseason in college football is focused on the teams fighting to reach the College Football Playoff. But that is not the only drama in the final weeks of the season.

There are also the races at the bottom of the bowl picture as teams fight to extend their seasons. And that plays out with teams fighting to gain the necessary six wins to become eligible.

It’s a complex puzzle to sort out through the first 12 weeks. However, what was once fuzzy throughout the season has become clearer entering the final games for most of the teams hoping to become bowl-eligible.

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How many available bowl spots are remaining?

The are 41 bowl games this postseason, which does not include the College Football Playoff championship game. That means 82 teams in the Bowl Subdivision must finish with six or more wins to fill all the spots.

Here’s the current situation involving the 130 teams eligible to play in the postseason.

► 67 teams have at least six wins.

► 39 teams cannot reach six wins.

► That leaves 24 teams capable of grabbing one of the 15 remaining spots.

The games that will decide who is bowl-eligible

In an interesting wrinkle to things, none of the 24 teams still capable of earning a bowl game play each other. That means there are two dozen matchups on the Week 13 schedule will play a role in what postseason picture looks like.

Tuesday, Nov. 21

Eastern Michigan (5-6) at Buffalo, ESPN2, 7:30 p.m. ET

Thursday, Nov. 23

Mississippi at Mississippi State (5-6), ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET

Friday, Nov. 24

Nebraska (5-6) vs. Iowa, CBS, noon ET

TCU (5-6) at Oklahoma, Fox, noon ET

Toledo at Central Michigan (5-6), ESPNU, noon ET

Utah State (5-6) at New Mexico, CBSSN, 3:30 p.m. ET

Saturday, Nov. 25

Houston at Central Florida (5-6), FS1, noon ET

Navy* (5-5) at SMU, ESPN2, noon ET

Northern Illinois (5-6) at Kent State, noon ET

Florida Atlantic at Rice (5-6), 1 p.m. ET

Georgia State at Old Dominion (5-6), 2 p.m. ET

Wake Forest at Syracuse (5-6), CW, 2 p.m. ET

Louisiana-Monroe at Louisiana-Lafayette (5-6), 3 p.m. ET

Arkansas State at Marshall (5-6), 3:30 p.m. ET

Brigham Young (5-6) at Oklahoma State, ABC, 3::30 p.m. ET

Illinois (5-6) at Northwestern, Big Ten, 3:30 p.m. ET

Virginia Tech (5-6) at Virginia, ACC, 3:30 p.m. ET

Wisconsin at Minnesota (5-6), FS1, 3:30 p.m. ET

Washington State (5-6) at Washington, Fox, 4 p.m. ET

Florida State at Florida (5-6), ESPN, 7 p.m. ET

Charlotte at South Florida (5-6), ESPNU, 7:30 p.m. ET

Clemson at South Carolina (5-6), SEC, 7:30 p.m. ET

California (5-6) at UCLA, ESPN, 10:30 p.m. ET

Colorado State (5-6) at Hawaii, 11 p.m. ET

* Navy will play Army on Dec. 9. That game comes six days after the bowl matchups are set, so they must win Saturday to be included on the bowl schedule.

What happens if there are not enough six-win teams for all the bowls?

Given that several teams are playing ranked opponents and others are big underdogs, it seems likely that there will be vacant spots to fill.

NCAA rules state that teams during the transition process from the Championship Subdivision to the Bowl Subdivision can fill available openings if they win six games. James Madison and Jacksonville State have 10 and eight victories, respectively, and will be next in line should there be enough losses among the five-wins team this weekend.

What about if there are more spots to fill after James Madison and Jacksonville State are added? Available spots will be allocated to five-win teams based on the APR scores reported for the 2021-22 academic year.

Here are the schools with the highest APR scores that have already achieved five wins or could reach five wins this season.

Minnesota — 992

Wake Forest (must beat Syracuse to get five wins) — 992

Rice — 987

Mississippi State — 985

Central Florida — 984

South Carolina — 983

Michigan State (must beat Penn State to get five wins) — 982

Ball State (must beat Miami (Ohio) to get five wins) — 980

What teams are bowl-eligible or already out?

Note: A team out cannot reach five wins and qualify by APR.

American Athletic:

In: Tulane, SMU, Texas-San Antonio, Memphis.

Out: Charlotte, Temple, Tulsa, East Carolina.


In: Florida State, Louisville, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Clemson, Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami (Fla.),

Out: Pittsburgh, Virginia.

Big 12

In: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa State, Texas Tech.

Out: Baylor, Cincinnati.

Big Ten

In: Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State, Maryland, Northwestern, Rutgers, Wisconsin.

Out: Indiana, Purdue.

Conference USA

In: Liberty, New Mexico State, Western Kentucky.

Out: Louisiana Tech, Texas-El Paso.


In: Notre Dame.

Out: Army (has two FCS wins), Connecticut, Massachusetts.


In: Toledo, Miami (Ohio), Ohio, Bowling Green.

Out: Akron, Buffalo, Kent State.

Mountain West

In: UNLV, Air Force, Fresno State, Wyoming, Boise State, San Jose State

Out: Hawaii, Nevada, San Diego State.


In: Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Oregon State, Southern California, UCLA, Utah.

Out: Arizona State, Colorado, Stanford.


In: Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, LSU, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Auburn, Kentucky.

Out: Vanderbilt.

Sun Belt

In: Troy, Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Arkansas State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, South Alabama, Texas State.

Out: Louisiana-Monroe, Southern Mississippi.

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