In 2011, WKU ended its season with a bowl-eligible 7-5 record, but was left sitting at home without an invitation. Is it possible WKU fans see a repeat in 2012? Read our breakdown below.
Keys to remember:
1) 35 bowl games means a total of 70 teams get bowl invitations.
2) In most cases, teams have to finish 6-6 or better to qualify for a bowl game.
3) Just because Team A is 7-5, and Team B is 6-6, doesn't mean that Team A earns first call on an invitation.
4) Polls from the week of 11/3 were used for ranked teams.
A) 56 teams (including WKU) have already met the 6 win requirement and are eligible to accept invites.
B) 13 teams are at 5 wins with 2-3 games to play. (Only need 1 more win to become eligible).
C) 18 teams are at 4 wins with 2-3 games to play. (Need 2 more wins to become eligible).
D) Out of the 31 teams still fighting for eligibility, it's likely we'll see anywhere from 14-18 actually earn it.
E) If 14 of the remaining 31 teams earn eligibility, that creates a perfect 70 eligible teams, meaning no team (including WKU) has to sit at home. Anymore than 14, and the Hilltoppers could see a repeat of 2011.
F) In 2011, there were 71 bowl-eligible teams, plus 6-7 UCLA who qualified because they claimed their 7th loss wasn't fair on the account it was a conference championship game, making 72. 7-5 WKU and 6-6 Ball State were the two qualified teams to go uninvited.
Current 5 win teams:
1) Air Force: 11/16 @ Hawaii (1-8)--11/24 @ Fresno State (8-3). Prediction: IN (W @ Hawaii, L @ Fresno St).
2) Arizona State: 11/17 vs. Wash. State (2-7)-11/23 @ Arizona (6-4). Prediction: IN (W vs. Wash State, L @ Arizona).
3) Iowa State: 11/17 @ Kansas (1-9)-11/23 vs. WVU (5-4). Prediction: IN (W vs. Kansas, L vs. WVU)
4) Michigan State: 11/24 vs. No. 24 Northwestern (7-3)-11/24 @ Minnesota (6-4). Prediction: OUT (L vs. Northwestern, L @ Minnesota)
5) Ole Miss: 11/17 @ No. 7 LSU (8-2), 11/24 vs. No. 21 Miss. State (7-3). Prediction: OUT (L @ LSU, L vs. Miss St)
6) Wake Forest: 11/17 @ No. 4 Notre Dame (10-0), 11/24 vs. Vanderbilt (6-4). Prediction: IN (L @ Notre Dame, W vs. Vanderbilt).
7) West Virginia: 11/17 vs. No. 12 Oklahoma (7-2)-11/23 @ Iowa St. (5-5)-12/1 vs. Kansas (1-9). Prediction: IN (L vs. Oklahoma, W vs. Iowa St, W vs. Kansas).
8) Georgia Tech: 11/17 vs. Duke (6-4)-11/24 vs. No. 5 Georgia (9-1). Prediction: IN (W vs. Duke, L vs. Georgia)
9) Missouri: 11/17 vs. Syracuse (5-5)-11/24 @ No. 15 Texas A&M (8-2). Prediction: IN (W vs. Syracuse, L vs. TAMU).
10) SMU: 11/17 @ Rice (4-6)-11/24 vs. Tulsa (8-2). Prediction: IN (W vs. Rice, L vs. Tulsa).
11) Syracuse: 11/17 @ Missouri (5-5)-11/23 @ Temple (3-6). Prediction: IN (L vs. Missouri, W vs. Temple).
12) Troy: 11/17 vs. Arkansas St (7-3)-11/24 @ MTSU (6-3). Prediction: IN (W vs. Ark St, L @ MTSU).
13) Louisiana-Lafayette: 11/17 vs. WKU (6-4), 11/24 vs. South Alabama (2-8), 12/1 @ FAU (3-7). Prediction: IN (W vs. WKU, W vs. South Al, W @ FAU).
5 win team summary: Right now I'm guessing 11 of these teams get in, 2 teams are left out. That sounds high, but remember, these teams have two (or even three) chances to get just 1 more win. Depending on how the dominoes fall, it's possible all 13 get in, or we could see as many as 7 left out (6 in). I don't see any way less than 6 of these teams get in.
Current 4 win teams:
1) Arkansas: 11/17 @ No. 21 Miss St (7-3), 11/23 vs. No. 7 LSU (8-2). Prediction: OUT (L @ Miss St, L vs. LSU)
2) Baylor: 11/17 vs. No. 2 Kansas State (10-0), 11/24 vs. No. 22 Texas Tech (7-3), 12/1 vs. Oklahoma State (6-3). Prediction: OUT (L vs. K State, L vs. Texas Tech, L vs. OK State).
3) Central Michigan: 11/17 @ Miami (OH) (4-6), 11/23 vs. UMass (1-9). Prediction: IN (W @ Miami (OH), W vs. UMass).
4) Connecticut: 11/24 @ No. 9 Louisville (9-1), 12/1 vs. Cincinnati (7-2). Prediction: OUT (L @ Louisville, L vs. Cincinnati).
5) Houston: 11/17 @ Marshall (4-6), 11/24 vs. Tulane (2-8). Prediction: IN (W @ Marshall, W vs. Tulane).
6) Indiana: 11/17 @ Penn St (6-4), 11/24 @ Purdue (4-6). Prediction: IN (W @ Penn St, W @ Purdue).
7) Iowa: 11/17 @ Michigan (7-3), 11/23 vs. No. 16 Nebraska (8-2). Prediction: OUT (L @ Michigan, L @ Nebraska).
8) Marshall: 11/17 vs. Houston (4-6), 11/23 @ East Carolina (6-4). Prediction: OUT (L vs. Houston, L @ ECU).
9) Maryland: 11/17 vs. No. 10 FSU (9-1), 11/24 vs. UNC (6-4). Prediction: OUT (L vs. FSU, L @ UNC).
10) Miami (OH): 11/17 @ Central Michigan (4-6), 11/23 vs. Ball State (7-3). Prediction: OUT (L @ Central Michigan, L vs. Ball State).
11) North Texas: 11/17 @ ULM (6-4), 11/24 @ WKU (6-4). Prediction: OUT (W vs. ULM, L @ WKU).
12) Rice: 11/17 vs. SMU (5-5), 11/24 @ UTEP (2-8). Prediction: OUT (L to SMU, W @ UTEP).
13) Pitt: 11/24 vs. No. 23 Rutgers (8-1), 12/1 @ USF (3-6). Prediction: OUT (L vs. Rutgers, W @ USF).
14) Purdue: 11/17 @ Illinois (2-8), 11/24 vs. Indiana (4-6). Prediction: OUT (W vs. Illinois, L vs. Indiana).
15) Tennessee: 11/17 @ Vanderbilt (6-4), 11/24 vs. Kentucky (1-9). Prediction: OUT (L @ Vanderbilt, L vs. Kentucky).
16) Utah: 11/17 vs. Arizona (6-4), 11/23 @ Colorado (1-9). Prediction: IN (W vs. Arizona, W @ Colorado).
17) Virginia: 11/15 vs. UNC (6-4), 11/24 @ Virginia Tech (4-6). Prediction: OUT (L vs. UNC, L vs. V. Tech).
18) Virginia Tech: 11/17 @ Boston College (2-8), 11/24 vs. Virginia (4-6). Prediction: IN (W @ Boston College, W vs. Virginia).
4 win team summary: Right now, I'm guessing only 5 of these 18 get bowl eligible. I know that seems low, but I just don't see many of these teams winning both (or 2/3) of their remaining games. I see 3 teams minimum getting in from this category, as many as 7 could get in.
1) Ohio State (10-0), North Carolina (6-4), and Penn State (6-4) are all eligible, but can't play in bowl games this year due to NCAA sanctions. USC and Miami were the only two ineligible teams based on sanctions in 2011.
2) Miami (5-5) hosts South Florida on 11/17, and goes to Duke (6-4) on 11/24. I'm thinking Miami will beat USF, maybe even Duke, but there are still questions as to if they will self-impose a bowl ban because of NCAA violations. I'm going to pin them OUT for now, but keep an eye for news on that one.
3) UTSA (6-4) is eligible by record, but cannot accept a bowl invite because they are in the 2nd year of their transition from FCS to FBS.
4) New Mexico and Western Michigan both have 4 wins, but can't make the list because they already have 7 losses.
5) South Florida technically still has a shot at 3-6 with three games to play. But I'm putting them OUT, no way they win all three of their remaining games.
6) UCF was supposed to have to sit out this season due to sanctions, but are appealing their postseason bowl ban. The NCAA has said they will not rule on the appeal until January, so even if they do deny UCF's appeal, it won't matter until the 2013 season.
A. 56 teams already eligible.
B. Estimating 11 of the current 5 win teams get in, also estimating 5 of the current 4 win teams get in. This means out of 31 total teams left fighting for eligibility, I'm taking a little over 50% (16) to get there.
C. This creates 72 teams eligible for bowls this year, meaning WKU would be facing a very similar scenario as last year. Keep in mind though, I was pretty conservative with these matchups, giving a lot of borderline teams the benefit of the doubt that they'll get the win(s) they need.
D. This projection is obviously by no means set in stone. There is a chance as many as 20 (75) of the 31 left teams could gain eligibility, although this would require a huge amount of dominoes to fall into place. I see between 14-18 as the likely sweet spot.