We entered the week with 15 teams still fighting to become bowl eligible with only 6 spots alive. There are 39 bowl games this year, resulting in 78 bowl slots, and we entered the week with 72 bowl eligible teams.
The beauty of the week has allowed us to watch most of these games play out before our eyes during the week. Three more bowl eligible teams have joined the fray as Ohio, Mississippi State, and Kent State became eligible.
We have also seen the NCAA uphold the Missouri bowl ban and Nebraska, TCU, and Troy all lost and were eliminated.
This leaves us with 8 teams still fighting for bowl eligibility and 3 spots open. The eight teams still alive are Liberty, Boston College, Michigan State, Oregon State, North Carolina, Colorado, UL Monroe, and Army.
Obviously, we know the Flames must beat New Mexico State this afternoon, or all of this discussion and speculation is for naught.
The clearest path for Liberty to slide into a bowl game is through the Cure Bowl, which Liberty has a secondary bowl agreement with. With the secondary agreement, the Flames can take the place of either an AAC or Sun Belt team should either of those conferences be unable to fill their bowl slots.
The Sun Belt will fill all their bowl slots, including the Cure Bowl. The AAC has enough bowl eligible teams to fill all of their slots, but if the AAC champ remains the highest ranked Group of Five team it will get a New Year’s Six bowl invite.
Memphis beat Cincinnati on Friday night to secure a spot in the AAC Championship game where they will have a rematch with the Bearcats next week.
Boise State is the only other team looming in the distance ready to supplant either Memphis or Cincinnati as the top ranked G5 team. The Broncos escaped with a win Friday night against Colorado State. They are currently ranked #20, just behind #18 Memphis and #19 Cincinnati.
It would make sense for Boise State to slide up a spot and be right behind Memphis and ahead of Cincinnati. We probably need Memphis to beat Cincinnati again next week to hold off Boise State if they win the Mountain West next week against Hawaii. If they do, Liberty has a really good chance at making the Cure Bowl even if all the other bowl slots are filled.
Breakdowns for the rest of the teams fighting for bowl eligibility today follows. Army has two games left, as their annual showdown with Navy looms next week. The Black Knights own two wins over FCS teams and therefore must defeat both Hawaii this week and Navy this week to become bowl eligible.
Boston College, Oregon State, Colorado, and UL Monroe are all big underdogs. We need them all to lose.
Michigan State is a big favorite. If they win, they claim spot 76, leaving two more.
If all that happens, North Carolina can beat NC State to become bowl eligible and take spot 77. That would leave the Flames to take spot 78.
Again, even if there ends up being more than 78 bowl eligible teams, Liberty could still get a bowl bid to the Cure Bowl or, less likely, to another bowl game.
Boston College at Pittsburgh (7-4)
Saturday, 3:30, ACC Network
Line: Pitt -9.5
We need Boston College to lose which will eliminate them.
Maryland (3-8) at Michigan State (5-6)
Saturday, 3:30, FS1
Line: Michigan State -21
We need Maryland to pull off the big upset to eliminate the Spartans.
Oregon State (5-6) at #6 Oregon (9-2)
Saturday, 4 p.m., PAC-12 Network
Line: Oregon -18
We need the Ducks to eliminate their in-state rival.
North Carolina (5-6) at NC State (4-7)
Saturday, 7 p.m., ACC Network
Line: UNC -8
We need the Wolfpack to knock off the Tar Heels and eliminate them from bowl contention.
Colorado (5-6) at #7 Utah (10-1)
Saturday, 7:30, ABC
Line: Utah -28
Utah should win and that would eliminate Colorado.
UL Monroe (5-6) at Louisiana (9-2)
Saturday, 7:30, ESPNU
Line: Louisiana -21
Louisiana has had a terrific season, and we need them to pull off a win against their rival to eliminate UL Monroe.
Army (5-6) at Hawaii (8-4)
Saturday, midnight, CBS Sports Network
Line: Hawaii -3
Army still has two games left, this week and next week against Navy. They need to win both to become bowl eligible as they have two FCS wins.