There are four more Saturdays of regular season college football left (not counting the annual Army loss to Navy on December 12). In terms of games remaining we are really left with about three weeks worth of games. One of the models still has us at 76 eligible but I think that is low right now, second model has 79, after edits I'm at 77.
American: Bowl ties: 7. Bowl Eligible: 4. Remaining teams not eliminated: 5
American really has six conference ties but Military Bowl played at Annapolis has a tie with Navy making it seven bowls. The American has the inside track to be the G5 Access bowl team so they will likely have 8 slots to fill.
Cincinnati needs one win and will likely be favored in all their games. South Florida and Tulsa need one win and should be favored in only one remaining game (UCF for USF and Tulane for Tulsa). UConn needs one win but would have to beat Houston or win at Temple. East Carolina needs two wins they play at UCF and host Cincinnati.
American probably hits seven on the nose, but sends a team to the Access Bowl and leaves the Cure Bowl vacant.
ACC: Bowl ties: 9. Bowl eligible: 7. Remaining teams not eliminated: 6.
Louisville needs one win and should be favored against Kentucky and Virginia. Needing two wins, Virginia Tech will only be favored against Virginia. Needing to win out you have Syracuse, Wake Forest, Virginia, and Georgia Tech. Odds of any of them making it to six range from not very good to the cashier at the betting window calls someone over to see if you are OK.
With Notre Dame in the mix ACC should cover all their bowl game, could end up leaving Quick Lane short if Virginia Tech melts down or selection committee starts being impressed by UNC.
Big XII: Bowl ties: 7. Bowl eligible: 4. Remaining teams not eliminated: 5.
Texas Tech needs one win and can wrap up a bowl by beating K-State in Lubbock on Saturday. Miss that chance then they have to beat Texas in Austin. West Virginia needs two wins and gets four shots at it. They play Texas @Kansas, Iowa State, @Kansas State in the last four. Texas needs two with three shots but it isn’t pretty, they are @West Virginia, Texas Tech, @Baylor. Meanwhile Kansas State has to win three of the final four @Texas Tech, Iowa State, @Kansas, West Virginia so three of four is very plausible. Iowa State needs to win three of three Oklahoma State can eliminate them this week, after that ISU is on the road the final two.
I like Texas Tech, West Virginia, and Kansas State to make it which would cover all the bowls but Baylor and TCU are going to either be playoffs or CFP Bowls. I expect the Heart of Dallas to be vacant the day after Christmas.
Big 10: Bowl ties 10. Bowl eligible: 7. Remaining teams not eliminated: 5.
Big 10 is probably going to place a team in the CFP and at-large in a CFP bowl, that gives 11 spots to fill.
The riderless horse that is Illinois needs one more win and that will be a tall order, they host Ohio State, then travel to Minnesota and meet Northwestern at Soldier Field, probably not favored in any of those. Minnesota needs to win two of the last three and they start that stretch at Iowa before hosting Illinois and Wisconsin. Nebraska has to win out traveling to Rutgers and hosting Iowa. Indiana needs two wins and it doesn’t look good, they have Michigan before traveling to Maryland and Purdue. Rutgers has to win out. If they win at home against Nebraska they look good to make it finishing with a trip to Army and hosting Maryland.
I would expect the Big Ten shorts the Armed Forces Bowl and probably Quick Lane in Detroit.
Conference USA: Bowl ties: 7. Bowl eligible: 4. Remaining teams not eliminated: 5.
MTSU needs two wins and should be favored in the remaining three (FAU, UNT, ODU), Blue Raiders win over Marshall just firmed up their odds of making it, but I already had them penciled in. FIU needs one win but they travel to Marshall and host WKU the Panthers are a long shot. Old Dominion needs two wins, they should win at home over UTEP, lose at USM and then will be a slight underdog at home vs FAU. UTEP needs two wins, if they lose at ODU, they have to beat LaTech at home then travel to North Texas, odds are a loss to ODU ends their hopes. Rice needs two wins and start with USM at home, then at UTSA and host Charlotte, barring an upset of USM their season rides on the UTSA trip.
Right now I’m thinking CUSA may make it on the money with MTSU, ODU, and Rice making it. Computer models cannot account for motivated seniors trying to save the season.
Mid-American: Bowl ties 5. Bowl eligible: 3. Remaining teams not eliminated: 5.
Central Michigan needs one win and should beat one or both of Eastern Michigan and Kent (should lose to Toledo). Buffalo needs one and closes the season at home with UMass, they could make it earlier with a win at Akron. Ohio should get bowl eligible Tuesday night hosting Kent, failing that, then a week later hosting Ball State don’t get it done by then, they close with NIU. Akron needs two wins and should be favored in the final three @Miami(OH), Buffalo, Kent. Meanwhile Kent State has to win out and should be an underdog in all three remaining games.
MAC will almost certainly have seven eligible teams for five spots.
Mountain West: Bowl ties 6. Bowl eligible: 3. Remaining teams not eliminated: 6.
Utah State needs one win and will be a slight underdog at Air Force, favored over Nevada at home and an underdog vs BYU at home. Nevada needs one will be favored over San Jose State this week, blow that and they are in trouble and have to get the win at USU or San Diego State. New Mexico needs one but they are at Boise then host Colorado State and Air Force, tough row for the Lobos. Colorado State needs two and should be favored in the final three games. San Jose State needs two, they should be a slight underdog at Nevada, big favorite at Hawaii then face Boise. UNLV has to win out their trip to Colorado State should finish the Rebels, they will be a big underdog at home vs. San Diego State. Win those two then winning at Wyoming gets them in.
I think MWC ends up on the money.
Pac-12: Bowl ties 7. Bowl eligible: 6. Remaining teams not eliminated: 5.
Pac-12 looks to have a team in CFP and the Rose so they really have 8 slots to fill.
California needs one more win but with home games against Oregon State and Arizona State sandwiched around a trip to Stanford the Bears are in great shape. Arizona needs one more but host Utah and travel to Arizona State, the Wildcats are a long shot. Washington needs two they travel to Arizona State and Oregon State, two winnable games before hosting the Apple Cup to end the season. Arizona State needs two hosting Arizona and Washington then finishing at Cal. Colorado needs two and USC can finish them off in Boulder on Friday, survive that and they have to win at Washington State and Utah.
Pac-12 is going to have an extra team most likely.
Southeastern: Bowl ties: 10, Bowl eligible: 8 Remaining teams not eliminated: 6
The SEC really should have 11 spots to fill with the CFP set-up.
Auburn needs one and they host Idaho in addition to Georgia and Alabama. Arkansas needs one hosts a Mizzou that is currently being boycotted by a large number of players, they also travel to LSU and host Miss State. Kentucky needs two, Charlotte should be one but they have to either win at Vandy or home vs Louisville. Mizzou needs two and will not be favored in any remaining game, they play BYU in Kansas City, host Tennessee and travel to Arkansas. Vanderbilt has to win out they host Kentucky and Texas A&M and travel to Tennessee. South Carolina has to win out, Florida should finish them on Saturday, if not they have The Citadel and would have to win at home over Clemson.
SEC might leave Independence open but should cover the rest and covering Indy isn’t that improbable.
Sun Belt: Bowl ties: 4, Bowl eligible: 3. Remaining teams not eliminated: 6
Louisiana Lafayette needs two if they win at USA on Thursday they are golden with home games vs NMSU and Troy and a road trip to App. South Alabama needs two and host the Cajuns and travel to Georgia State, if they drop on of those they have to either win at Georgia Southern or home against App. Troy has to win out and that starts with Georgia Southern at home before traveling to Georgia State and ULL. Texas State has to win out, they start with Georgia State and ULM at home then travel to Idaho and AState. Idaho has to win out starting with Appalachian State at home, a trip to Auburn, then hosting Texas State. Georgia State has to win out the trip to Texas State wraps up someone’s chances, that is followed by hosting USA and Troy then a trip to Georgia Southern.
Sun Belt will get four, five is possible. If the Cajuns win in Mobile, USA has their back against the wall. If the Jaguars win, USA should make it and ULL has to take care of business at home.
My Sun Belt selections:
I am assuming the computer model nails the outcomes and AState wins out (9-3, 8-0), App wins out (10-2, 7-1), USA wins according to model (6-6, 4-4), and the model is wrong about ULL losing to Troy but right about losing to USA putting ULL just in (6-6, 5-3).
New Orleans: AState, GoDaddy: Appalachian State, Montgomery: ULL, Cure: Georgia Southern loses only to UGA (9-3, 7-1).
Bowls likely open:
Poinsettia (San Diego), Cure (Orlando), Heart of Dallas, Armed Forces (Ft Worth) and maybe Independence and Quick Lane (Detroit). If Tucson ends up covered (think it will be) Sun Belt has problems if more than 80 make it.
If Pac-12 has a vacancy, I suspect they play MWC in San Diego, MWC sends a team to cover the Heart of Dallas vs CUSA. MAC fills Quick Lane and Orlando and the Sun Belt’s best hope is Armed Forces takes a Sun Belt rather than MAC. Armed Forces is on Tuesday December 29 at 1:00pm vs potentially MWC 6.
If Pac-12 spurns a MWC meeting in San Diego they probably play CUSA in Dallas or MWC in Ft Worth, though they could probably get a P5 match in Detroit.
As it stands today, those with the perpetual “better bowl” itch (and in quotes because I don’t agree with most people’s definition of a better bowl) the best shot and probably the best hope for the Sun Belt to place five without help from MWC or CUSA having teams collapse would be to send AState to Armed Forces vs. MWC 6 (1:00 pm Tuesday December 29 at Fort Worth) or Heart of Dallas against CUSA (1:10 pm, Saturday December 26 at the Cotton Bowl). That would give NOLA cover to take ULL, give Mobile an attractive probable 10 game winner, Montgomery would get USA again and Cure would be Georgia Southern vs a probable MAC team.