Leave it to the Sun Belt. A week closer to the end of the season and the overall picture may actually be muddier than a week ago.
Troy, App and Idaho are now eligible. Troy and AState are the only schools in the race who control their destiny. Georgia Southern and UL Lafayette have to sweep their final two games to get eligible. South Alabama will have to sweep its final games to get eligible without either a waiver or get in under an exemption for teams without enough qualifying wins. The Cajuns need to win two of the last three and AState at least one of the last three.
So let’s sort out who gets eligible.
Red Wolves are on the road for the final three. Troy will be a clear favorite. UL Lafayette will be tabbed as fairly close but the Red Wolves favored and AState a big favorite at Texas State. Red Wolves in.
South Alabama needs to win at Idaho and at home vs. NMSU to get eligible on their own but a win against one coupled with a win over LSU replacement Presbyterian puts USA in good position if there are fewer than 80 eligible teams and maybe can get a waiver to not wait for a shortage. USA is the league’s most confusing team. Going to say they split the remaining league games and wait for a waiver or exemption.
ULM may well beat ULL in Monroe, I don’t think they win at App. So I say ULM out.
Georgia Southern should win at Georgia State and seems unlikely to win at Troy but they get an extra week to prepare. Still have to say GaSo is out until proven wrong.
UL Lafayette. The Cajuns might just be this year’s version of Georgia State, the improbable run to eligibility. They will lose at Georgia and have their back against the wall needing a home win over AState and a road win at Monroe. I’m skeptical of my pick but right now I’m going with the Cajuns out.
THE BOWL BIDS
Thursday will give us some clarity but no resolve the issue.
I think if AState wins out the Red Wolves are in New Orleans, Troy in Mobile and Appalachian State in Montgomery. That probably sends USA to Orlando and Idaho to Tucson.
If Troy wins out then the Trojans go to New Orleans, App is headed to Mobile and AState is most likely in Montgomery.
Two big concerns for AState. We don’t want Montgomery having the ability to pick a 7 win USA. We also don’t want a situation where the Red Wolves stumble to 6-6 and ULL is eligible by beating AState.
If Sun Belt bowl eligible exceeds the five ties the situation can get very dicey. Troy and Appalachian State are going to land in the top three Sun Belt bowls (NOLA, Mobile, Montgomery). Idaho is a lock for Tucson, the storyline of making a bowl while headed to FCS is too good for a bowl director to turn down when there is no team in close driving distance. Only way they miss Tucson is if only four Sun Belt get eligible and they land in Orlando.
This gives AState a narrow window. A 6-6 finish could knock the Red Wolves out of any Sun Belt tied bowl if there are more than five eligible. If there are five eligible AState could land in Orlando if the Alabama based bowls think ULL or USA will sell better than a non-champion AState.