The Sun Belt is almost assured a slot in the Papa John's Bowl in Birmingham. That is unless Auburn beats Alabama or Arkansas beats Miss State and LSU. Neither is that likely. The same can be said for the Petrosun Independence Bowl. Auburn or Arkansas is the SEC's only shot to fill the slot and a Colorado win over Nebraska is the Big 12's only shot. One of these bowl games will be open for a Sun Belt team, and quite possibly both. That would give the Sun Belt three bowl slots and make our conference office look genius after picking up the secondary tie-ins earlier in the year.
As ridiculous as it sounds, the FAU win over ULL this weekend did wonders for Blue Raider bowl hopes. It's really not all that far-fetched that the boys from Murfreesboro could sneak in to a bowl game in late December.
Obviously the first thing that needs to happen is for Middle Tennessee to win out. That will put them at 6-6 and bowl eligible.
Basically the Blue Raiders' bowl chances hinge on the hope of no other team outside of the Sun Belt Champion having 7 wins, because MT can only get 6. Troy is already 6-4 and would almost definitely be taken over Middle in Birmingham and Shreveport, so the Blue Raiders need them to win the conference, which is not that unlikely anyway. That would mean wins over Louisiana Lafayette and Arkansas State, putting them at 8-4.
That would leave Louisiana Lafayette at 5-7, one win shy of bowl eligibility. That is why the FAU upset over ULL this weekend was so big.
The only other teams that can challenge Middle for a secondary tie in slot are Arkansas State (4-5), FIU (4-5), and FAU (5-5). Obviously we can't have any of those teams get to 7 wins given that the conference only gets one of the secondary tie in slots.
Obviously alot of things could happen but in reality a bowl bid may not be as far out of the question as it first sounds to Middle Tennessee fans.
These are the remaining Sun Belt games:
FAU @ stAte
MT defeats UNT*
ULM @ FIU**
Troy defeats ULL*
stAte @ UNT**
FIU @ FAU
MT defeats ULL*
WKU @ FIU**
ASU @ Troy*
*MT would need these to happen.
**Upset will only help increase the Blue Raiders' bowl chances, but are just gravy.
So, assuming that Troy and MT win out, and the favorites win the games involving ULM, UNT, and WKU, the records from teams that matter would look like this...
Troy 8-4**Conference Champion/N.O. Bowl
ULL 5-7 **Eliminated
These records don't include the FAU @ stAte, and FIU @ FAU games. Middle Tennessee fans don't want any team with 7 wins other than Troy, so they would need an FIU loss at FAU, and an FAU loss at stAte, putting all four teams at 6 wins. Again, a ULM or WKU upset over FIU or a UNT upset against ASU only helps their cause.
If the Sun Belt has two (or even one) extra bowl bids, you would have to think that with Middle Tennessee's resume - a 4 game winning streak, the conference's biggest win, their attendance/season ticket holders, and being competitive in every single game this season, that it would take something crazy for them to get left out. Let's be realistic, no one wants FIU or FAU in Birmingham or Shreveport.
The crazy thing is, the toughest part of this scenario may end up being Middle Tennessee defeating the Cajuns in Lafayette.
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