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A 5-7 Bowl Berth Is Still Possible, But Unlikely

Of course, we could just beat Pitt

Boston College v Notre Dame Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

A couple weeks ago we took a look at where the Eagles stood with respect to the possibility of making a bowl with a 5-7 record, thanks to BC’s high APR ranking. At the time, it looked pretty possible, if things broke our way — maybe not 50/50, but something in the ballpark.

A couple weeks later just about everyone has only one regular season game left, and that narrows down the possibilities on how many teams might make it to bowl season. Let’s do a quick run through to see how the numbers look for the Eagles to make a bowl at 5-7.

We’ll first go through our usual caveats:

  • 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, and Duke is the only team above us with a chance to make it to exactly 5 wins — they are 4-7 and would need to beat Miami at home this weekend to get there.

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

  • There are 72 teams that are already bowl eligible.
  • Liberty has 6 wins already but played two FCS teams and needs 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 73.

That leaves 5 spots open for teams that haven’t yet gotten to 6 wins. That’s not very many.

There are 14 teams left, excluding BC and including Duke, who are battling for those final 5 spots. All of them would get a berth with a win before BC would with a loss to Pittsburgh.

Battle For A Bowl

Rk Team curr W L T proj W L T Bowl Eligible Opponent
Rk Team curr W L T proj W L T Bowl Eligible Opponent
1 Ohio 5 6 0 6 6 0 96.40% Akron
2 TX Christian 5 6 0 5.9 6.1 0 89.00% West Virginia
3 Michigan St 5 6 0 5.9 6.1 0 89.40% Maryland
4 Missouri 5 6 0 5.8 6.2 0 0.00% Arkansas
5 N Carolina 5 6 0 5.7 6.3 0 71.90% NC State
6 Army 5 6 0 5.7 7.3 0 61.60% Hawaii & Navy
7 Miss State 5 6 0 5.7 6.3 0 71.70% Mississippi
8 Boston Col 5 6 0 5.3 6.7 0 34.60% Pitt
9 Nebraska 5 6 0 5.3 6.7 0 33.40% Iowa
10 Kent State 5 6 0 5.3 6.7 0 32.70% Eastern Michigan
11 Troy 5 6 0 5.2 6.8 0 18.40% App State
12 Oregon St 5 6 0 5 7 0 3.90% Oregon
13 Colorado 5 6 0 5 7 0 2.60% Utah
14 LA Monroe 5 6 0 5 7 0 3.20% LA-Lafayette
15 Duke 4 7 0 4.3 7.7 0 0.00% Miami

(Friendly reminder that this looks much better on a desktop than it does on mobile)

As there are 5 open spots, that means only four of those teams can win for BC to sneak in as the 5th team at 5-7.

One thing to keep in mind is that the NCAA still hasn’t ruled on Missouri’s bowl ban appeal, so it’s possible that even if they win, they might be out. My guess at this point is that given how late in the year it is, the NCAA might just let this go until next year and let Missouri play (or even that Missouri might drop its appeal and just decide not to go at 6-6 to get it over with). But that will be a factor.

But in any case, whether it’s 4 out of 13 results or 4 out of 14 results that need to go BC’s way, the chances aren’t all that good. If you assume everyone projected to have 5.8 wins and above gets to 6, and that everyone at 5.3 and below stays at 5 (or 4 in the case of Duke), that would mean that all three of the teams projected at 5.7 wins would need to lose. Not impossible, but not very likely — roughly 3%, to be exact, based on those “Bowl Eligible” percentages in the table above, and on top of that it’s more likely that one of the teams below that cut line win one than one of the teams above that cut line lose one.

Of course, Missouri being ineligible would help, and there’s always the chance that a team declines a berth for some reason. But at this point it’s pretty clear the barring some mathematically unlikely events, the Eagles are probably going to need to Pittsburgh to make it to December.