It’s official: There will be multiple teams with losing records playing in bowl games next month.
With only currently 75 bowl-eligible teams to fill 80 bowl berths, at least two bowls will need teams with 5-7 records. And there could be as many as five teams with losing record earning bowl berths because not enough teams reached six wins to fill the record 41 bowl games, including the College Football Playoff title game.
On Saturday, Kansas State (5-6) hosts West Virginia, Georgia State (5-6) visits Georgia Southern; and South Alabama (5-6) hosts Appalachian State. Any of those 5-6 teams that win will earn a bowl berth. The 5-6 teams that lose will create additional openings for more 5-7 bowl teams.
While the number of teams with losing records required to fill the bowls won’t be known until Saturday, the NCAA’s Football Oversight Committee is expected to make a decision this week on how the bowls will select the 5-7 teams, a source told ESPN.
With multiple teams needed, the Football Oversight Committee must decide exactly how the bowls and teams will make the selections.
The original contingency plan to fill the bowls if 5-7 teams were needed cited the top-five overall APR (Academic Progress Rate) teams. That rule, a source told ESPN, was intended to mean the top-five 5-7 APR teams. So will the committee suggest the bowls use 5-7 teams based on APR? And if so, will the bowls have to select the teams in order of their APR ranking or will bowls be allowed to select any team from a top-five grouping of APR teams?
Also, since multiple bowls will need teams with losing records, how will they decide which bowl selects first? One source said geography would play a key role in determining which bowls would fill their openings.
Whatever the oversight committee recommends, it must be approved by the NCAA’s Council and possibly the NCAA’s Presidents before bowls are allowed to select 5-7 teams.
There could be as many as 17 teams with five wins in contention for getting a bowl berth. If the committee recommends selecting the teams based on best APRs, here are the top five-win teams based on the 2013-14 APR data, the most recent available, which will be used by the NCAA:
985 -- Nebraska (5-7)
976 -- Missouri (5-7)
976 -- Kansas State (5-6)
975 -- Minnesota (5-7)
975 -- San Jose State (5-7)
973 -- Illinois (5-7)
973 -- Rice (5-7)
Kansas State will be in a unique position Saturday. A win against West Virginia would make the Wildcats bowl eligible. But if they lose, since K-State would be tied for the second-best APR among 5-7 teams, the Wildcats would appear to be in line for one of the bowls needing a 5-7 team.
A source, however, cautioned that the oversight committee could come up with a different proposal for selecting 5-7 teams since this is “unchartered territory.” Another source said there could be 5-7 teams that may opt to not play in a bowl game.
In the past 20 years, only four teams with losing records have received a bowl berth: Fresno State (2014), Georgia Tech (2012), UCLA (2011) and North Texas (2001). That number could be exceeded this year alone.