As the regular season comes into the home stretch this weekend, only nine of the 80 postseason slots remain with 18 teams all vying to earn one.
The qualifier that got to six wins in the most impressive fashion last week was the UConn Huskies. Becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2010, UConn ruined Houston’s perfect season with a 20-17 upset victory in Stoors on Saturday night. It was the first win over a Top 25 team since beating USF in 2007.
In Frank Beamer’s final home game as head coach of Virginia Tech, the Hokies were denied a sixth victory on the season by North Carolina, which means Saturday’s regular-season finale at Virginia will be his last if the Hokies lose. If they win, they’ll likely go to a 23rd straight bowl game.
Here’s our breakdown of bowl-eligible teams:
American Athletic Conference (7) – With UConn’s big win, the AAC has now filled its seven bowl tie-ins. Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, Navy, Temple and USF are also eligible for the postseason. East Carolina and Tulsa are the only two teams left in the conference that can get to six wins. Tulsa is at Tulane on Friday, while ECU hosts Cincinnati on Saturday.
Atlantic Coast Conference (8) – No new teams became bowl eligible in the ACC last week, leaving the conference one shy of its nine bowl commitments. Virginia Tech is the only team left in the conference that can still become bowl-eligible and join Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Pittsburgh.
Big 12 Conference (6) – West Virginia became bowl eligible last weekend by beating Kansas, 49-0, for its third straight victory. The Mountaineers join conference rivals Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech in the six-win club. There is still one more tie-in for the conference to fill, which might not happen. No remaining teams have five wins, so Texas and Kansas State would have to win the final two games on the schedule to get to six.
Big Ten Conference (7) – No changes in bowl eligibility in the Big Ten this week, although defending national champion Ohio State was stunned by Michigan State. Those two teams, along with undefeated Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern, Penn State and Wisconsin are all in. Four more teams – Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska – are sitting on five wins going into the final week of the regular season. Indiana plays at Purdue, but the other three teams have their hands full. Illinois hosts Northwestern, Minnesota hosts Wisconsin and Nebraska gets Iowa.
Conference USA (5) – Middle Tennessee stayed hot by beating North Texas, 41-7, and to join Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Southern Miss and Western Kentucky in postseason eligibility. Old Dominion is the only remaining CUSA team that can still get to six with a game against FAU on Saturday, which means the conference will come up either one or two short of its seven bowl tie-ins.
Independents (2) – BYU, Notre Dame – yes. Army West Point – not so much.
Mid-American Conference (7) – Akron became bowl eligible by beating Buffalo, 42-21, last week. That gives the MAC seven teams with at least six wins and just five bowl commitments. The Zips join Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Toledo and Western Michigan in becoming eligible for the postseason. Buffalo is the only MAC team that can still get to six wins. The Bulls will look to do so at home against UMass.
Mountain West Conference (7) – It was a big week for the Mountain West with both Colorado State and Utah State getting huge road wins over New Mexico and Nevada, respectively, to become bowl eligible. The Rams and Aggies join Air Force, Boise State, Nevada, New Mexico and San Diego State in bowl eligibility. San Jose State can still get to six with a win over Boise State, although the MWC already has exceeded its five bowl commitments.
Pac-12 Conference (9) – There’s nothing quite like beating your rival to become bowl eligible. That’s exactly what Arizona State did with a 52-37 win over Arizona in the Territorial Cup. The Sun Devils, along with Arizona, Cal, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah and Washington State all have six or more wins. Washington can still become bowl eligible by beating rival Washington State, which will be no easy task. The Pac-12 has already exceeded its seven bowl tie-ins.
Southeastern Conference (10) – The SEC has reached its 10 bowl commitments on the dot. Kentucky can still get to six with a win over Louisville. If the Wildcats pull that off, they will become bowl eligible along with Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
Sun Belt Conference (3) – It was yet another week of no changes in bowl-eligible teams in the Sun Belt, as Appalachian State, Arkansas State and Georgia Southern, which nearly beat Georgia, remained the only three teams in the league to reach six wins. However, with two games left on the schedule, Georgia State, Louisiana and South Alabama could all still get to six victories. USA has five wins, while GSU and Louisiana have four each. The conference needs just one more bowl-eligible team to fill its four slots.
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