Written by College Football America Director of Editorial Content Chuck Cox.
Sixteen more teams now have a chance to go bowling.
Fourteen schools reached six wins on the season last week, while two more made it on Tuesday night in a pair of Mid American Conference games.
That brings the total to 46 teams that are bowl-eligible. Minus the four teams that will be in the inaugural College Football Playoff and play in the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl for the semifinals, that fills up more than half of the 72 slots in the remaining 36 bowl games.
Here’s the recap:
American Athletic Conference – With UConn on the schedule last week, UCF seemed like a safe bet to join East Carolina in the six-win club. Not so much. The Huskies walked away with a stunning 37-29 win over the Knights to keep UCF at five wins. However, four more teams – Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis and Temple – also reached five victories last week. Memphis and Temple tangle in Philly on Friday night, so one of those teams will definitely reach six wins this week. Houston plays host to Tulane, while Cincy and UCF have byes this week. Tulsa was mathematically eliminated from bowl contention with last week’s loss. The AAC has six bowl tie-ins.
Atlantic Coast Conference – The ACC made it seven bowl-eligible teams with Boston College and Miami (FL) joining the party with wins over Virginia Tech and North Carolina, respectively. NC State will try to get to six victories with a home game against Georgia Tech on Saturday. No other team in the conference has more than four wins. The ACC has nine bowl tie-ins.
Big 12 Conference – Oklahoma, a team many prognosticators pegged to reach the Final Four of the College Football Playoffs, became bowl-eligible last week by thumping Iowa State, 59-14. That gives the Big 12 five teams with six or more wins, including Baylor, Kansas State, TCU and West Virginia. Oklahoma State has five wins, but the Cowboys have a bye this week. The Big 12 has seven bowl tie-ins.
Big Ten Conference – Three more Big Ten teams – Iowa, Maryland and Wisconsin – got to six wins last week to give the conference seven bowl-eligible teams. Those teams join Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio State in the six-win club. Rutgers is still sitting on five wins, although the Scarlet Knights are off this week. The Big Ten has 10 bowl tie-ins.
Conference USA – Louisiana Tech became the second CUSA bowl-eligible team by rolling past Western Kentucky, 59-10, last week. The Bulldogs join undefeated Marshall on the six-win plateau. However, four more teams – Middle Tennessee, Rice, UAB and UTEP – are all sitting on five victories. MTSU is off this week, while Rice hosts UTSA; UAB hosts La Tech; and UAB is at Western Kentucky. CUSA has six bowl tie-ins.
Independents – Notre Dame is still the only independent team to have reached six wins, but BYU moved to five with a road victory over Middle Tennessee. The Cougars are off this week.
Mid-American Conference – Now, that’s how you fill your conference’s bowl tie-ins. Heading into last week, Northern Illinois was the only bowl-eligible team in the MAC. Central Michigan and Western Michigan reached six wins on Saturday, and then Bowling Green and Toledo followed suit on Tuesday night to give the conference its five bowl tie-ins. No other MAC teams have reached five wins this season. Kent State was also eliminated from bowl contention with Tuesday’s loss to Toledo.
Mountain West Conference – Air Force, Nevada and Utah State all reached six wins last weekend, but the Aggies still need another victory because they have a 13-game schedule. With the Falcons and Wolf Pack, the MWC now has four bowl-eligible teams. Utah State plays at Wyoming on Friday night. No other MWC teams have reached five wins this season, but the Rainbow Warriors and UNLV are both eliminated from bowl contention. The Mountain West has seven bowl tie-ins.
Pacific-12 Conference – USC got to six wins this past weekend with a win over Washington State to give the Pac-12 six bowl-eligible teams. Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, UCLA and Utah have all reached at least six wins. Washington has also won six games but needs one more victory to become bowl-eligible because of its 13-game schedule. Cal and Stanford both have five victories and are off this week. Colorado and Washington State have been eliminated from bowl contention. The Pac-12 has seven bowl tie-ins.
Southeastern Conference – Texas A&M held off Louisiana-Monroe, 21-16, to become the eighth SEC team to reach six wins this season. The Aggies join Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri and Ole Miss as bowl-eligible teams. Kentucky is sitting at five wins and hosts Georgia on Saturday. The SEC has 10 bowl tie-ins.
Sun Belt Conference – After 10 weeks, the Sun Belt still does not have a bowl-eligible team. Georgia Southern has seven wins (and is 6-0 in conference, I might add), but the Eagles are not eligible for the postseason. Four teams – Arkansas State, Louisiana, South Alabama and Texas State – all have five victories. ASU and USA play each other this weekend, while Texas State plays Georgia Southern and Louisiana is at New Mexico State. The Sun Belt has three bowl tie-ins.