Pageantry Team Celebration

Welcome to this week’s Good news bad new5 column. Now that the season is winding down, I’m going to do something a little different. I am very much not a “bowl projection guy”. Sure, they are fun to look at, but because they are slotted to some degree, it gets a bit predictable to read. So I am going to do something different.
At this point, we know who in the Group of 5 conferences are good (Cincinnati, Louisiana, Northern Illinois to name a few) and who is bad (Akron, Arkansas St., Southern Miss to name a few). So I want to focus on the teams that fall somewhere in-between. While I’m not going to predict what bowls teams may make, I will gladly predict whether the teams that have neither qualified nor been eliminated from contention will get to the magic 6 wins based on their remaining schedule. It’s like the bubble for the NCAA Basketball Tournament, but completely different.
Note: There are 30 G5 teams who are not yet Bowl eligible but also not eliminated from consideration. At the risk of overwhelming you, dear reader, I am breaking down this column into two. I will focus on AAC and MAC for this column because once MACtion happens tonight, everything will change. Tomorrow’s column will focus on Conference USA, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt.

AAC
Bowl Eligible: Cincinnati, Houston, SMU, UCF
Eliminated from Bowl Eligibility: Tulane, Navy, South Florida

East Carolina (5-4)
Remaining games: at Memphis, at Navy, Cincinnati

One might feel comfortable if they need to win one game out of three to clinch bowl eligibility. But the Pirates have a TOUGH stretch to end the season. Travelling to Memphis is a difficult chore unless your name is UTSA. (You knew I was going to get a Roadrunner mention in eventually.) And playing Cincinnati at the end of the year when they are on a mission to go undefeated is cruel and unusual punishment. So their hopes for bowl eligibility rest primarily on a trip to Annapolis to beat Navy. Now Navy is not great by any means, but just ask Tulsa how tough they can be on any given day. East Carolina can’t take them lightly.
Bowl or No Bowl: No Bowl

Memphis (5-4)
Remaining games: East Carolina, at Houston, Tulane

So the winner of East Carolina at Memphis clinches a bowl bid. Obviously, I think the Tigers will win the game, but even if they don’t they end the season hosting last place Tulane. The Tigers have very little to worry about as far as bowl eligibility is concerned.
Bowl or No Bowl: Bowl

Tulsa (3-6)
Remaining Games: at Tulane, Temple, at SMU

I bet Tulsa wishes they had that game against UC Davis back. They could (and for all intents and purposes SHOULD) be sitting at 4-5 with very winnable games remaining at Tulane and at home against Temple. Alas, the best the Golden Hurricane can hope for is 5-6 needing to win at SMU to get to a bowl. Not impossible, and if I am being honest, I give them just as much of a shot as East Carolina to get to six wins.
Bowl or No Bowl: (Cautiously) No Bowl

Temple (3-6)
Remaining Games: Houston, at Tulsa, Navy

One loss does the Owls in. That one loss is likely to come against Houston this weekend, especially if an offense that has scored 27 points total in the last four games doesn’t figure something out fast. They are hanging on by a thread, but if they can get by the Cougars, games at Tulsa and at home against Navy are not overly daunting.
Bowl or No Bowl: No Bowl

MAC
Bowl Eligible: Northern Illinois, Eastern Michigan
Eliminated from Bowl Eligibility: Ohio, Akron


Kent St. (5-4)
Remaining Games: at Central Michigan, at Akron, Miami of Ohio

Look, with the unpredictable nature of the MAC, take nothing for granted. But Akron is one of two teams in the conference guaranteed to have a losing record. Suffice to say, I think the Golden Flashes can get one of three games for bowl eligibility.
Bowl or No Bowl: Bowl

Ball St. (5-4)
Remaining Games: at Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, Buffalo

Travelling to Dekalb to take on NIU is no easy task, but ending the season with two home games against Central Michigan and Buffalo give the Cardinals a good chance at a victory. You don’t just walk into Scheumann Stadium and expect a victory.
Bowl or No Bowl: Bowl

Central Michigan (5-4)
Remaining Games: Kent St., at Ball St., Eastern Michigan

The Chippewas have about as tough of a closing stretch as you can ask in the MAC. Kent St. and Ball St. are both fighting for bowl eligibility themselves and Eastern Michigan is one of two teams already with 6 wins. Don’t ask me who it will be against, but playing the odds, I think CMU gets a game.
Bowl or No Bowl: Bowl

Western Michigan (5-4)
Remaining Games: Akron, at Eastern Michigan, at Northern Illinois

The Broncos better beat Akron this week (likely given the Zips have let their coach and probably playing out the strong). Their last two games are road tilts against teams that are fighting to win their division. If something weird happens tonight in Kalamazoo, it could get dicey.
Bowl or No Bowl: Bowl

Miami (OH) (4-5)
Remaining Games: Buffalo, Bowling Green, at Kent St.

The RedHawks have two winnable games coming up at home against. Winning those would get them to six. Going to Kent St. needing a win is a tall task. Too many games this season have gone against the RedHawks (losing at Eastern Michigan by 1 and at Ohio by 2). While I think Miami is good enough to get to six wins, it just feels like a bad luck season.
Bowl or No Bowl: No Bowl

Buffalo (4-5)
Remaining Games: at Miami (OH), Northern Illinois, at Ball St.

Going to Oxford tonight feels like a game the Bulls need to win for bowl eligibility, as their last two are going to be tough. Losing tonight then expecting them to win both at home against Northern Illinois and in Muncie is asking a lot.
Bowl or No Bowl: No Bowl

Toledo (4-5)
Remaining Games: at Bowling Green, at Ohio, Akron

With the remaining closing schedule, the Rockets have no one to blame but themselves if they can’t win two out of their last three games. They finish the season with arguably the three worst teams in the league. That’s not to say those teams can’t win on any given night (especially when MACtion is as unpredictable as ever) but if you were to create your own schedule at this point in the season, this is probably what it would look like.
Bowl or No Bowl: Bowl

Bowling Green (3-6)
Remaining Games: Toledo, at Miami (OH), Ohio

I’m not sure any team in the conference will go on a three-game winning streak from here on out, so asking any 3-6 teams to do so seems….unlikely. Having said that, the Falcons are equipped to do so. Their 56 point explosion against Buffalo didn’t exactly come out of nowhere. They have scored 20 points in each of their conference games, so if their defense can show up, they have a chance. To expect that three times is asking a lot, but it will be fun watching them try.
Bowl or No Bowl: No Bowl



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