Good news bad new5 (Part 2)


Part One of this week’s column (which you can read here) focused on what it will take for teams in the AAC and MAC to make it to a bowl. Now I will take a deeper look at Conference USA, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt to see what it takes for those “bubble teams” to get to a bowl game.

Conference USA
Bowl Eligible: UTSA, UAB, UTEP, Marshall
Eliminated from Bowl Eligibility: Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss

Western Kentucky (5-4)
Remaining schedule: at Rice, Florida Atlantic, at Marshall
Ah, the classic case of a team whose non-conference schedule toughened them up for conference play. Once upon a time, the Hilltoppers were sitting at 1-4 after losses to Army, Indiana, Michigan St. and UTSA. They didn’t look overmatched in any of those games, but a loss is a loss is a loss. Since then their schedule has lightened up considerably and they have won 4 in a row, scoring no less than 34 points in any of their victories. They need to win two out of their last three, and with that high-powered offense, don’t bet against them to do so.
Bowl or No Bowl: Bowl

Florida Atlantic (5-4)
Remaining Schedule: at Old Dominion, at Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee

FAU is one of the most talented, but most inconsistent teams in the conference. They can look like the class of the conference against teams like Charlotte and UTEP, but also look flat as a pancake against UAB and Marshall. They need just one win in their last three, but they may need to wait until their finale to do so, as they have road games upcoming against suddenly hot Old Dominion and Western Kentucky. This feels like a 6-6 team.
Bowl or No Bowl: Bowl

Charlotte (5-4)
Remaining Schedule: at Louisiana Tech, Marshall, at Old Dominion

A few weeks ago, Charlotte was sitting at 4-2 and I boldly compared them to a sleeping giant much like a Coastal Carolina. They then proceeded to get smoked by Florida Atlantic and Western Kentucky, then barely squeak by Rice in overtime. They are not the same, and that may be on me. Nonetheless, they need to simply win one of their last three to earn bowl eligibility. That could come as early as this week against a not-very-good-but-still-feisty Louisiana Tech. If it doesn’t, a full fledged collapse could be on the horizon.
Bowl or No Bowl: Bowl

Middle Tennessee (4-5)
Remaining Schedule: Florida International, Old Dominion, at Florida Atlantic

Needing to win two out of three gives you a bit of margin for error, and hosting one of the worst teams in the conference is a nice buffer as well. They don’t set the world on fire, but Middle Tennessee is a team that beats the bad teams. I think they find a way to get two wins and end up at six.
Bowl or No Bowl: Bowl

Old Dominion (3-6)
Remaining Schedule: Florida Atlantic, at Middle Tennessee, Charlotte

Winners of two in a row (albeit against maybe the two worst teams in the conference) ODU is gaining confidence and quickly becoming “the team no one wants to play”. They get FAU at home next in a game they have to win. If they do, things could get interesting. It’s not impossible that ODU runs the table against three beatable teams, but it is probably too little, too late.
Bowl or No Bowl: No Bowl

North Texas (3-6)
Remaining Schedule: UTEP, at Florida International, UTSA

It hasn’t been pretty, but at 3-6, despite likely playing for a lame duck coach and quarterback play that has been atrocious, the Mean Green can still qualify for a bowl.
For now.
They play UTEP this weekend in a game that they probably only have a chance in because it is at home. But for the sake of argument, let’s say they pull off the upset, then go to Miami and beat hapless FIU, they end the season with UTSA. Ain’t happenin Cap’n.
Bowl or No Bowl: No Bowl

Rice (3-6)
Remaining Schedule: Western Kentucky, at UTEP, Louisiana Tech

Much like North Texas, is still technically eligible for a bowl. And much like North Texas, that is likely to end this weekend. The Owls face a very hot Western Kentucky. If they find a way to win (stranger things have happened) they travel to UTEP. I just don’t see them winning both, making the season finale against Louisiana Tech moot.
Bowl or No Bowl: No Bowl

Mountain West
Bowl Eligible: San Diego St., Utah St., Nevada, Fresno St., Air Force
Eliminated from Bowl Eligibility: UNLV

Boise St. (5-4)
Remaining Schedule: Wyoming, New Mexico, at San Diego St.

The Broncos were yo-yoing this season until getting a second win in a row by beating the brakes out of Fresno St. Saturday. They seem to be peaking at the right time, and with home games against struggling offenses Wyoming and New Mexico coming up next, winning one out of three is pretty likely. They aren’t a traditional Boise St. team, but they are a bowl team.
Bowl or No Bowl: Bowl

Wyoming (5-4)
Remaining Schedule: at Boise St., at Utah St., Hawaii

Whatever the opposite of “peaking at the right time” is, that’s where you will find the Cowboys. Their offense was pretty much MIA the entire month of October. They may have righted the ship a bit against Colorado St. last weekend, but with road tilts at Boise St. and at Utah St. upcoming, Wyoming’s bowl hopes may come down to a winner-take-all finale against Hawaii in Laramie. Get your popcorn ready.
Bowl or No Bowl: Bowl

San Jose St. (5-5)
Remaining Schedule: Utah St., Fresno St.

To my knowledge, the Spartans are the only FBS team with only two games left. (Thanks Week Zero.) So that means the Spartans need to split their very difficult final two games. They have had records of 1-1, 2-2, 3-3. 4-4 and now 5-5. No reason to think they won’t end up 6-6.
Bowl or No Bowl: Bowl

Hawaii (4-6)
Remaining Schedule: at UNLV, Colorado St., at Wyoming

Because Hawaii, the Warriors have a 13 game season. So they need to finish 6-7 to be bowl eligible. Games upcoming at UNLV and Colorado St. are very winnable, getting them to six. But if they slip up somewhere, we have that previously mentioned winner-take-all game in Laramie. Because I have a soft spot for Hawaii…
Bowl or No Bowl: Bowl

Colorado St. (3-6)
Remaining Schedule: Air Force, at Hawaii, Nevada

Colorado St. was 3-3 before a three game losing skid put their bowl hopes (and likely Steve Addazio’s job) on life support. Air Force and at Hawaii are actually winnable games, but Nevada is far too talented to lose to Colorado St.
Bowl or No Bowl: No Bowl

New Mexico (3-6)
Remaining Schedule: at Fresno St., at Boise St., Utah St.

Things really have to break right for a 3-6 team to get to 6-6. The Lobos remaining schedule is an example of everything breaking very, very wrong. New Mexico has to beat three of the top teams in the conference, two of them on the road. If it happens, I will eat a shoe.
Bowl or No Bowl: No Bowl

Sun Belt
Bowl Eligible: Louisiana, Coastal Carolina, Appalachian St.
Eliminated from Bowl Eligibility: Georgia Southern, Arkansas St.

Troy (5-4)
Remaining Schedule: Louisiana, Appalachian St., at Georgia St.

The good news, Troy only needs one win to earn bowl eligibility. The bad news, it’s going to be real tough to get that one win. Louisiana has clinched a berth in the conference title game, so there is a possibility they rest some players. I think the Trojans get a win somewhere, but it might not be until the finale. And it might be close.
Bowl or No Bowl: Bowl

South Alabama (5-4)
Remaining Schedule: at Appalachian St., at Tennessee, Coastal Carolina

It’s one thing to need to find a win against conference foes, it’s another when one of your three remaining games is against an SEC school! USA has a finale against Coastal Carolina and that’s probably their easiest remaining game. Winning this weekend at Appalachian St., while unlikely, would take a lot of pressure off. (Side note: I will be at the South Alabama-Tennessee game.)
Bowl or No Bowl: No Bowl

Georgia St. (4-5)
Remaining Schedule: at Coastal Carolina, Arkansas St., Troy

At Coastal Carolina and home against Arkansas St. kinda cancel each other out, leaving Georgia St. likely sitting at 5-6 heading into potentially another (ready) WINNER-TAKE-ALL game for a bowl bid. If Georgia St. could’ve just held on against Auburn back in September, this is probably a moot point. Alas…
Bowl or No Bowl: No Bowl

UL Monroe (4-5)
Remaining Schedule: Arkansas St., at LSU, at Louisiana

These WarHawks….what a roller coaster. They beat teams they have no business beating (like Liberty) them lose to teams they have no business losing to (like Texas St.) Let’s assume a win over Arkansas St. (not a safe assumption but go with it). They finish in Death Valley against LSU and at Louisiana. Terry Bowden vs. Ed Orgeron is a coaching matchup literally from my wildest dreams. I don’t know how, and maybe I just have Bowden blinders on but…
Bowl or No Bowl: Bowl

Texas St. (3-6)
Remaining Schedule: at Georgia Southern, at Coastal Carolina, Arkansas St.

Having no margin for error having to travel to Coastal Carolina pretty much seals Texas St.’s fate. Too bad, as the other two games are winnable.
Bowl or No Bowl: No Bowl

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