The chances of a 5-7 team in a bowl are high

There will have to be some upsets in the final week of the college football season if there aren’t 5-7 teams in the bowl games.

After Miami (Ohio) came back to beat Ball State, 18-17, and secure a berth in the Bahamas Bowl, there are 74 teams eligible for bowl games. And with Rice and Appalachian State both needing a win to be eligible for a bowl game, the number of bowl-eligible teams will be no less than 75. The Mountaineers are 4.5-point favorites in that matchup and need to a seventh bowl eligibility win as they have two wins so far this season against FCS teams.

But here’s the catch. There are 41 bowl games this year outside of the national title game. That means seven teams with five wins need to win the last weekend of the season in order for there to be no 5-7 teams heading to a bowl game. And many of those teams with five wins are underdogs.

Only four of the remaining teams needing a win in Week 13 are favourites. Here is a look at the lines, courtesy of BetMGM.


  • Southern Miss (-3) at Louisiana-Monroe

  • Buffalo* (-4) vs. Kent State

  • Louisiana (-5.5) to the State of Texas

  • UAB (-17.5) at Louisiana Tech

*Buffalo is 5-5 after its game against Akron was postponed.

An underdog score

Significant losers

  • Rice (+14) in North Texas

  • Vanderbilt (+14.5) vs. Tennessee

  • UTEP (+17) at UTSA

  • Michigan State (+18) to Penn State

Hoping for a miracle

Which of these underdogs are you most confident in? All three point losers are at home, so they could conceivably win and that wouldn’t be a surprise. But would you count that happening? A $50 parlay on all the favorites and underdogs by a score to win would pay over $2,000. The odds aren’t great that all seven teams win outright.

That’s why there’s likely to be at least one 5-7 team in a bowl game this year. And this is where academics come into play. 500 teams are selected for bowl games based on their academic progress rate. That means Rice (994) is first in line if he finishes 5-7 because he has the highest APR of any potential 5-7 team.

We’ll avoid selecting multiple teams to bowl based on their APR in our penultimate series of bowl projections and try to be optimistic. We’ll dive into APR rates in a week’s time if needed. Let’s hope not. But we probably will.

Missouri is a 3-point underdog against Arkansas at home on Friday. Can the Tigers win to get to six wins and bowl eligibility? (Photo by Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Six New Year’s bowls games

Orange Bowl (December 30)

Clemson vs. Alabama

Sugar bowl (December 31)

Kansas State vs. LSU

Bowl of Peaches (December 31) [CFP semifinal]

Georgia versus USC

Fiesta Bowl (December 31) [CFP semifinal]

Ohio State vs. TCU

Cotton Bowl (January 2)

Tennessee vs. UCF

Rose Bowl (January 2)

Michigan versus Oregon

More bowling games

Bahamas Bowl (December 16)

Rice vs. Miami, Ohio

Healing Bowl (December 16)

Freedom versus South Alabama

Fenway Bowl (December 17)

Syracuse versus Cincinnati

New Mexico Bowl (December 17)

Air Force vs. North Texas

LA Bowl (December 17)

Boise State vs. the state of Washington

LendingTree Bowl (December 17)

Toledo vs. State of Appalachia

Las Vegas Bowl (December 17)

Utah vs. Mississippi State

Frisco Bowl (December 17)

Central Tennessee State vs. SMU extension

Myrtle Beach Bowl (December 19)

UTSA vs. Coastal Carolina

Potato Bowl (December 20)

San Diego State versus Bowling Green

Boca Raton Bowl (December 20)

Florida Atlantic vs. Eastern Carolina

New Orleans Bowl (December 21)

Western Kentucky vs. Southern Miss

Armed Forces Cup (22 December)

Houston versus Miami

Gasparilla Bowl (December 23)

Maryland versus South Georgia

Independence Cup (23 December)

BYU vs. UConn

Hawaii Bowl (December 24)

State of San Jose v. UAB

Quick Lane Bowl (December 26)

State of Utah vs Buffalo

First Responder Bowl (December 27)

Memphis vs. Kansas

Birmingham Bowl (27 December)

State of Fresno vs. Louisiana

Camellia bowl (December 27)

Ohio versus Troy

Guaranteed Rate Bowl (December 27)

purdue vs. State of Oklahoma

Military Cup (December 28)

Duke against Tulan

Liberty Bowl (December 28)

Oklahoma vs. South Carolina

Holiday bowl (December 28)

Wake Forest vs. Washington

Texas Bowl (December 28)

Texas Tech vs. Arkansas

Chalked bowl (December 29)

NC status vs. Minnesota

Cheez-It Bowl (December 29)

North Carolina versus Baylor

Alamo Bowl (December 29)

Texas versus UCLA

Duke’s Mayo Bowl (December 30)

louisville vs. Wisconsin

Sun Bowl (December 30)

Oregon State vs. Pitt

Gator Bowl (December 30)

Florida State vs. Kentucky

Arizona Bowl (December 30)

Wyoming vs. Eastern Michigan

Music City Bowl (December 31)

Iowa vs. Florida

ReliaQuest Bowl (January 2)

Notre Dame vs. Illinois

Citrus Bowl (January 2)

Penn State vs. Miss

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