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Would Boston College Football Make It To Bowl Season At 5-7?

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It’s... possible

Florida State v Boston College Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

Ah yes, November. The nights are long, the bitter cold starts to find its way to New England, and Boston College Football fans start wondering whether or not we’ll get to six wins.

So common is this here on the Heights that we actually did this exact same exercise just a few years ago, though it ended up not mattering. At the time (November 2nd, 2016) BC was 4-4, and the Eagles finished off the year by getting annihilated by Louisville and Florida State before smacking UConn 30-0 and squeaking by Wake Forest 17-14. That was enough for 6-6 and a bid to the Quick Lane Bowl where the Eagles learned how to score points out of nowhere and beat Maryland to get to — wait for it — 7 wins.

So, here we are. BC sits at 5 wins and are underdogs in the final two games at Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. Inquiring minds want to know — might the Eagles still get into a bowl if they lose both?

Let’s start out with the same caveats we started out with three years ago:

  • No one is rooting for BC to end up 5-7.
  • We can all acknowledge that going 5-7 would result in an incredibly disappointing season.
  • No one is rooting for BC to end up 5-7.

With that out of the way, let’s start out with the fact that there are 78 bowl berths available. Bowl games are filled in a certain order, with teams 6-7* or better all getting in before the 5-7 teams. If there are still bowl slots open after all those teams are selected, the remainder will be filled with teams based solely on, and in numerical order of, their Academic Progress Rate (APR).

*teams that play a game in Hawaii, basically

Historically, BC has had an excellent APR, and this year is no different. The Eagles are T-8th in APR, behind only Duke and Clemson in the ACC and tied with Wake Forest.

These are the schools above BC in the APR this season

Teams by APR

Team APR Curr W L Proj W L Bowl Eligible
Team APR Curr W L Proj W L Bowl Eligible
Air Force 997 7 2 9.6 2.4 100.00%
Northwestern 996 1 8 2.6 9.4 0.00%
Clemson 992 10 0 11.9 0.1 100.00%
Duke 992 4 5 5.6 6.4 53.70%
Navy 991 7 1 9.3 2.7 100.00%
Washington 991 6 4 7.6 4.4 100.00%
Vanderbilt 991 2 7 3.2 8.8 0.00%
Utah 989 8 1 10.8 1.2 100.00%
Wake Forest 989 7 2 8.2 3.8 100.00%
Nevada 989 6 4 6.7 5.3 100.00%
Boston Col 989 5 5 5.3 6.7 32.70%

Here’s the good news — everyone above BC in APR except Duke is either already bowl eligible or not going to be bowl eligible (Vanderbilt can technically win their next 3 to get to 5-7, but... they are not going to do that).

So with that in mind, we’ll take a look at TeamRankings.com to see how many teams are bowl eligible and how many might get there.

  • There are 53 teams that are already bowl eligible.
  • Liberty and Virginia Tech have 6 wins already but played two FCS teams and need another win to reach bowl eligibility at 7-5. But they would still be selected over a 5-7 team, so they get added in to make it 55.
  • Hawaii has 6 wins already and needs one more to reach bowl eligibility at 7-6, but they would still be selected above BC at 6-7, so they get added in too to make it 56.

That leaves 22 spots open for teams that haven’t yet gotten to 6 wins. So now we can get into the nitty-gritty.

There are 35 teams that are projected to get 5 or more wins. Sorry for the big table, but it’s worth seeing (and looks way better on a desktop than mobile, by the way):

5+ Projected Wins

Rk Team APR curr W L proj W L Bowl Eligible
Rk Team APR curr W L proj W L Bowl Eligible
1 BYU 5 4 7.5 4.5 100.00%
2 Miami (OH) 5 4 7.3 4.7 99.90%
3 Buffalo 5 4 7.3 4.7 99.20%
4 Iowa State 5 4 7.2 4.8 99.30%
5 Arkansas St 5 4 7.2 4.8 98.00%
6 Utah State 5 4 6.8 5.2 95.60%
7 GA Southern 5 4 6.7 5.3 92.50%
8 Missouri 5 4 6.7 5.3 0.00%
9 Arizona St 5 4 6.5 5.5 89.60%
10 Louisville 5 4 6.5 5.5 88.90%
11 Kentucky 4 5 6.5 5.5 92.20%
12 Tennessee 5 5 6.2 5.8 93.60%
13 N Carolina 4 5 6.2 5.8 83.20%
14 California 5 4 6.1 5.9 73.80%
15 Florida St 5 5 6 6 98.00%
16 E Michigan 5 5 6 6 74.50%
17 Michigan St 4 5 6 6 86.90%
18 Fresno St 4 5 6 6 73.00%
19 Ball State 4 5 6 6 71.50%
20 Charlotte 5 5 5.9 6.1 72.50%
21 Wash State 4 5 5.9 6.1 72.60%
22 Ohio 4 6 5.8 6.2 83.30%
23 Miss State 4 5 5.8 6.2 75.40%
24 Army 4 6 5.7 7.3 57.70%
25 TX Christian 4 5 5.6 6.4 57.30%
26 Duke 992 4 5 5.6 6.4 53.70%
27 Boston Col 989 5 5 5.3 6.7 32.70%
28 Florida Intl 5 5 5.3 6.7 27.40%
29 North Texas 4 6 5.3 6.7 41.70%
30 Coastal Car 4 5 5.3 6.7 36.90%
31 NC State 4 5 5.2 6.8 33.60%
32 Stanford 4 5 5.1 6.9 27.80%
33 Texas Tech 4 5 5 7 26.30%
34 LA Monroe 4 5 5 7 21.20%
35 Middle Tenn 3 6 5 7 25.60%

As you can see, BC ranks 27th in terms of most projected wins. But remember, all those teams ahead of the Eagles (other than Duke) need to get to 6 wins to get in over BC with 5. It’s extremely unlikely that all of the teams above the Eagles get to 6 wins, but it’s also likely that a couple below them will pull off an upset to get there too.

There’s one other thing to keep in mind — Missouri. The Tigers are very likely to get to 6 wins, but they are also facing a bowl ban. The NCAA has inexplicably yet to rule on their appeal from months and months ago, but that’s going to be a factor. If the ban is upheld, it’ll be one more team that gets into a bowl. And I guess it’s possible some team declines a bowl berth as well which would help things.

So what’s this all mean? Let’s summarize.

  • If the Eagles are going to get in with 5 wins, then there are already 56 teams in front of them who will get a berth, leaving 22 openings.
  • There are 19 teams that are projected to get to 6 wins as of right now, and there are 7 more teams that are more likely to get to 6 wins than they are to end with 5 wins — for a total of 26 teams.
  • That would leave BC on the outside looking in by 5 spots, if they don’t take a win in one of their last two games.

Without pulling off some crazy probability calculation to figure out the odds of 21 or fewer teams getting to 6 wins (that haven’t already), it looks like the Eagles are somewhere below a 50-50 shot of getting in at 5-7, but it wouldn’t be crazy if they did.

We’ll check in on the numbers against next week to see how things change.