The San Jose State Spartans finished the 2015 regular season 5-7, following a 40-23 loss to Boise State on November 27. By the book, the Spartans’ season was over, as teams need 6-6 or better records to be considered for a bowl game.
However, a shortage of teams with such records and NCAA contingency rules could reverse the Spartans’ fortunes. Of 80 teams needed for 40 bowl games, only 75 finished the season 6-6 or better. This means that five teams with 5-7 records could be invited to bowl games, provided that they have the top Academic Progress Rates among 5-7 teams.
Among FBS teams with five wins, San Jose State and Minnesota both have APR’s of 975, with only Nebraska (985) and Kansas State (976) having better numbers. Just below San Jose State are both Illinois and Rice with APR’s of 973. Missouri, whose APR is also 976, decided to decline any bowl invitation, as the university seeks a new head coach following the retirement of Gary Pinkel.
Next weekend, three teams with 5-6 records could become bowl eligible through a sixth win: Kansas State, Georgia State, and South Alabama. They all face opponents with better records. San Jose State’s chances of a bowl invite are best if there remain four fewer 6-win teams than the 80 bowl spots available. Should there be just three, Minnesota likely wins the tiebreaker for bowl consideration over San Jose State by virtue of being in a Power Conference and having stronger attendance.
Speaking in his weekly press conference on Monday, San Jose State coach Ron Caragher signaled that he would accept a bowl invitation and that he has the support of the university athletic director and president to do so, albeit with “guarded optimism.”
A bowl game for this team has its upsides and downsides. If San Jose State does accept a bowl invite, the team gains around two more weeks of practice time to prepare for the game and could enter spring camp with more preparation and conditioning. The team also gains advantage in recruiting and fan support, through the hype and exposure of being in the postseason. However, given that Caragher has a 3-11 record in November games and the team’s poor run defense, success in a December game appears questionable. If a bowl game does happen, it will serve as Caragher’s redemption opportunity following last week’s saddening loss.