5-7 bowl invite certain with Civil War victory

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon's huge upset over #12 Utah in Salt Lake City have opened the door to the possibility of a bowl invitation at 5-7. Though John Canzano has been quick to whiz all over the idea (probably because he's on his ninth draft of Helf's eulogy and can't wait to publish it), real Duck fans would welcome such an invitation. Under new NCAA rules, all 6-6 teams must be selected for bowl games prior to any 5-7 teams, or "alternates." Remaining 5-7 teams are then chosen in order of their long term Academic Progress Rate. Oregon has traditionally been in the top half of the Pac 12 in APR and it's likely there will be several bowl invitations to alternate 5-7 teams. (Disclaimer: I am not an 'expert', just looking at the big picture, so feel free to add comment.)

There are 40 bowl games in 2016-17, excluding the Natty game, but only 65 FBS teams currently bowl eligible. There are an additional 16 teams sitting at 5-6 going into the final week of the season and another 18 teams at 4-7. There will certainly be some 5-7 invites in 2016.

For the non-Power 5 conferences, SMU, UTSA, N. Texas, SMU, S. Miss, Miami, Akron, and Hawaii are all 5-6. UTSA and Miami (OH) are favored, and N. Texas and Hawaii are heavily favored to win. The other teams are serious underdogs, so lets say four more 6-6 teams from these conferences. That means we could have eleven 5-7 bowl invites to go around.

Now the the 5-6 Power 5 teams: NC St, TCU, Texas, Indiana, Maryland, ASU, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss. Texas and TCU will play for a winning record in Austin. Indiana (vs Purdue 3-8) and Maryland (vs Rutgers 2-9) will play their final games at home against weaker opponents NC State will be big underdogs at North Carolina (8-3). Vanderbilt will host #19 Tennessee. Ole Miss will host Mississippi State (4-6). In the Pac 12, Arizona State travels to Arizona the weakest team in the conference. ASU is injury depleted, but with a winning season on the line, the Sun Devils probably win in Tuscon.

Playing the odds, we now have Indiana, Maryland, Ole Miss, and Arizona State finishing out at 6-6. That leaves seven bowl games that need a 5-7 team to play.

From the 5-6 analysis of Power 5 teams, four teams drop to 5-7: Texas or SMU, NC State, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State. To that list we add 4-7 teams that could reach 5-7. Syracuse (at Pitt 7-4) and Duke (at Miami 7-4) as heavy underdogs. Scratch them. Northwestern hosts a bad Illinois (3-8) team. Notre Dame will likely be slaughtered at USC. Cal gets home field advantage against UCLA in a battle where the Pac 12 rivals' strengths match up well. Finally Oregon will get a scrappy Oregon State team in Corvallis, but probably be favored. Unless there is a big upset here, there will be seven 5-7 Power 5 teams for seven bowl games that need them.

Of the remaining non-Power 5 teams at 4-7, N. Illinois will be highly favored against Kent St, and Nevada and UNLV will face off in the silver state. Cincinnati, Florida Intl, Ball State, Ball State and Charlotte all face formidable odds to reach 5-7.

So here's my subjective list of 5-7 teams looking seven open bowl games and their 2014-15 APR: SMU 945, NC State 969, Vanderbilt 990, Miss State 971, Northwestern 992, Cal 960 or UCLA 972, Oregon 969, N. Illinois 970, Nevada 949 or UNLV 936.

Oregon would be firmly in the middle of teams based on 2014-15 APR (NCAA doesn't list long term APRs on their site), making a 5-7 bowl invitation likely. For extra help, fans can root for Illinois and Cal. A victory by Oregon over the Beavs next week almost certainly means a bowl game.

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